Mary Ann Cobos Boyd



Posted by [email protected] on September 12, 2013 at 8:20 PM

Each characteristic trait is well represented by each animal. You are very convincing into leading one to think that chickens could actually be quarrelsome and prideful, or that coyotes could really be paranoid worriers, etc. You brought out each animal’s endearing (and not-so-endearing) qualities through your writing, and I found that to be very effective; for example, many times I found myself quite annoyed at Chicken, but I am now a big fan of Rabbit and Coyote (and their ears!). Furthermore, the vivid and detailed way you described scenes will allow you to take your readers through interesting glimpses of desert panorama and other majestic sights. One of my favorites is the following:

The night sky looked enormous and was filled with a million bright stars. I stood there looking at the beauty and the wonder of it all. The twinkling lights of the night sky gave beauty and life to an otherwise black, vast, empty expanse. Some of the stars were so powerful and bright, others small and faint. They all seemed to demand your attention. You would look at one, and then another would twinkle in a different style or a different color, each one crying out, “Look at me!” Some were a single color of either white, blue, green, or orange, and others shimmered in a rainbow of colors, but each one had its own radiance, its own glory, and its own beauty.

You said that in your dream, Silver City, New Mexico, represented “a place of being lost—a life before we answered the call to accept Jesus into our hearts.” Another important thing that you did was toward the end of your book, you mentioned, “This is, in no shape or form, a reflection on Silver City, New Mexico.” Good call on making that disclaimer! Much as you have reiterated that this book was based on your dream (the kind that happens during sleep; ergo, you have no control over who’s who or what’s what), we want to avoid potentially offending Silver City, (and non-Silver City) New Mexico, residents—and the earlier on we can do this, the better.

Your book will highly appeal to teenagers and adults especially but not isolated to a Christian audience, because of its being very relatable to almost everybody. Each animal characteristic is a quintessential human trait, so each of your readers will be able to associate themselves (or someone they know) with an animal or two (I bet many couples can identify with Rooster and Chicken!). Also, the abruptly broken dream sequence left room for the imagination; and by doing this, you allow the readers to ponder and derive their own conclusions, so the deep thinker will find this book a worthy read. Finally, your easy-to-understand words and laid-back style in writing could account for a younger audience, such as kids in middle school (or even younger). It will also make for a good bedtime storybook to be read by parents to small children. I am sure the cute way Rabbit rubbed his ear on Rooster’s sore back, or the funny way Coyote howled out his words will draw out sighs of admiration and shrieks of delight from kids. I can envision a picture-book adaptation of your story. Why not?

The plot of your manuscript is well written. You were able to describe the major events in your dream, and you were able to connect them to the less important scenes smoothly. You highlighted the most important elements without using too much trivial detail yet still offered ample description that will take your readers to the scenes without missing out anything or feeling cut short. Your plot is effective and engaging. In your dream, your journey started off as smooth-sailing and, like every good story, later on developed obstacles along the way—Chicken being such a pain, Rooster being gullible and weak-willed, and Coyote’s excessive worrying—that served as detours to an otherwise guaranteed trip. Rabbit’s character played a vital role in that he provided protagonist support. You will keep your readers at the edge of their seats during the fork-in-the-road chapter, and your story intensifies as you build your way up a climax that will keep your readers asking, Where is Rabbit? What happened to Rabbit? The readers will then find Rabbit—and suddenly you wake up. No warning. And while the readers were left dazed and wondering, you then masterfully left them with something thought-provoking, as if saying that surely there is more to this dream than meets the eye.

In addition, your manuscript’s plot is detailed and organized. You used a chronological order (things go in order based on time), which is usually the best way to go. I like your style in writing—good paragraphing, easy on the eyes, clever play of words, and a tasteful usage of idioms. You mentioned that you are a songwriter, and the literary artist in you clearly manifests in your writing style.

The dialogue of your manuscript is realistic and engaging. You did not use much dialogue but were able to give your characters their distinct voices and set your story at just the right pace using a blend of dialogues, action tags, and narratives. By using action to break up your dialogues, you did not let them run too long, which made them believable. You did not feed your readers with too much information all at once; rather, you let the story unfold naturally.

See below dialogue which I found to be very good:

“As the three travelers got ready to leave, I took Chicken aside. I felt she needed a little encouragement or a little pep talk. She kept her head low with her eyes looking downward. It made me feel terrible because I did not want her to think that I didn’t like her, or that I was still upset with her. I decided to ask her why she insisted so much on going back to Silver City.

‘It’s all I’ve ever known,’ she said, and then began to tell me that she never truly had a family. Rooster had been the only one who had ever seemed to care enough to stay by her side. This was the first time Chicken had actually opened up to me. She seemed to have finally let her guard down. I was proud of her. I realized that she was afraid of losing Rooster. All this time, she was just trying to hold on to her little family.

‘You know, Chicken, your family has grown. It used to be just you and Rooster, but now we are all family. Things may get tough down the road, but we must work together and stay together because we are family, and family sticks together!’

She looked up at me with her beautiful eyes, and for the first time they sparkled with life and didn’t even look angry.”

That is an example of a dialogue that is well-paced, full of good images, and inspires emotion. And you were able to pull that off despite just a few exchanges of words between characters.

This great work you’ve done to your dialogue is further accentuated with your usage of an inspiring tone. Your approach is friendly and not overtly persuasive. You were able to assert the relevance of your dream to your faith without being pushy or offensive. You artistically gave a detailed account of your dream and what its meaning was, as you believe it, and then you invited your readers to do their own introspection—to examine their own thoughts and feelings—and let them decide how they respond. Because of this, your readers will be excited to share this with family and friends, young and old alike, including those who shy away from “religious legalism.” I want to tell you that I felt your sincerity and desire that through this book, your readers will be inspired to move their feet toward the straight and narrow road that leads to Life; and to your readers who still have not found their “El Paso,” someday they’ll find it too.

It was a pleasure reading Animal Dream. You definitely should pursue writing from hereon. Congratulations on your first book and on becoming a full-fledged writer!


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