1. I know we have discussed this before, but I’m still not sure about the title. How about ‘Snake!’ or ‘A Bush Adventure’?
2. The present tense is a little overused in stories nowadays, with a generation of creative writing students believing it makes a story more ‘immediate’. Would you consider changing to the past?
3. ‘The drover, an ex-squatter, is away with sheep. His wife and children are left here alone.’ As in this example, you do ‘tell’ quite a lot in this story, rather than ‘show’. Please consider revising.
4. I see that you still haven’t given the drover or his wife a name. I’ve always been partial to Paul and Barbara. I think the story would work much better if the characters were christened.
4. I still maintain ‘Crocodile’ would be a better name for the dog. Alligators aren’t found in Australia, after all.
5. As per one of the previous comments. Only two of the children have names; Tommy and Jacky. I believe the other two should be named so the reader may better imagine them. What do you think about Bellajenae and Savannah?
6. The Young Ladies Journal is published by a rival firm. Could you change this to Hello?
7. I understand that you are a little squeamish when it comes to swear words, but it is difficult to shock a reader nowadays. Instead of ‘(adjective) possums’, have a think about ‘sodding possums’ or ‘fucking/motherfucking possums’. After all, it hasn’t hurt Christos Tsiolkas, has it?
8. ‘No use fretting’ is a good line, but a little stilted and old fashioned. A simple ‘No worries’ would work better, I think.
9. You mention a brother-in-law here. Perhaps Barbara (the drover’s wife) is having a torrid affair with him? Just a thought.
10. Henry: I know you aren’t racist, but the words ‘blackman’ and ‘blackfellow’ could certainly be interpreted as such, especially as these characters are very much more ‘flat’ than ‘round’. Please reread the article I sent you last week, ‘Creating Believable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Characters’.
11. I must admit, I’m a little concerned about the cruelty to animals you portray in these paragraphs. Does the bullock have to die? Perhaps he is not mad and merely hungry. This would give us a chance to see a more sympathetic side of the wife. I’m also afraid these scenes might land us in trouble with PETA types. Revise?
12. Instead of a swagman, perhaps a rather pretty swagwoman might appear here? This is an interesting twist, and could lead to an intriguing new direction for the story. Remember how successful Brokeback Mountain was!
12. As I mentioned above, I have reservations about the lazy ‘blackfellow’ here. It won’t be a problem, of course, if you only intend to submit the story to Quadrant.
13. Haha! I love the holey handkerchief. In fact, I think the story could benefit from more humour of this kind.
14. Perhaps instead of burning the snake, she could make a belt of it? I like the symbolism of this.
15. The last line; consider deleting?
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