Non-Fiction Writing for Critique 001: Big Knickers by Caron Allan

Welcome to Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group and the first piece (hooray!) on this blog. This 299-worder is by Caron Allan.

Please do comment in the section below telling us what you liked about this story and, what if anything, the author could do to improve upon it. Thank you – it’s very much appreciated!

I do have some feedback but I’ve just included it (below the piece) as links to the scans of my handwritten-notes so I can let others comment here without being influenced by me. 🙂

Big Knickers

Thinking back to when I was a child, I remember once being in a department store, in Tunbridge Wells in the mid-1960s.  I can picture the scene as if I were an onlooker.

I’m buying big knickers with Auntie Zonya.  It’s a lesson in economy versus quality.  I am wearing a skirt my mother made me and a jumper.  My hair is in a long plait down my back as always.

They look the same – same size, shape, style and colour, yet these knickers are less than half the price of those.  Zonya, in other ways so stylish and chic, favoured the larger undie.  Knickers built like cycle shorts – up to the waist, down to the knees (and incredibly, sometimes even with a pocket in the waistband!).  Crimson, stretchy cotton with a little line of black lace trim at the waist and knee.

I can’t imagine wearing anything so huge.  By comparison, my underwear at age six or seven or whatever I am is really quite skimpy and small.

We are in BHS or somewhere like that, comparing their own brand of cheap and cheerfuls with a far more expensive generic brand-name knicker.  Seeing my doubtful looks, she assures me these are warm, comfortable and very, very durable.  I’m not convinced.  Maybe they will swallow me whole.  And the colour!  Red like holly berries or Zonya’s lipstick or red like a London bus or a pillar box.  Really, really red.

We snap the elastic a few times experimentally.  It seems sufficiently sturdy and reliable and so economy wins out and the cheapy knickers are purchased.

I remember it as a fun, ordinary outing, one of the few memories I have of shopping when I was small. I realise now never did ask her how she got on with them.


For the other writing group blogs (links below), I usually handwrite notes on to the story and scan them in but because this is so short I’ve made some notes below.

If there’s anything else you’d like to add, please give your comments to Caron below. Thank you.

  • I love your mother has made your clothes – mine did too.
  • I would have said there should be commas either side of ‘or whatever I am’ as the reader would pause, and after ‘sturdy and reliable’ as the reader could read on thinking the ‘so economy’ part of the sufficiently.
  • ‘cheap and cheerfuls’ and ‘Maybe they will swallow me whole.’ made me laugh.
  • ‘Seeing my doubtful looks’ I’d say should be a singular ‘look’.
  • I usually pick up on repetition and you’ve got two ‘red likes’ which does work because the second enhances the first but I did wonder if a ‘power of three’ red would have worked better but then you had ‘really, really red’ so that’s the third of three reds so I’d say that’s even better.
  • It’s a great story and although very short, it’s easy to find all the characters endearing and wouldn’t we all want an Auntie Zonya. 🙂

Thank you, Caron.


CaronCaron Allan was born in Kent and has lived all over the south east of England, and also spent five years in Brisbane, Australia, which has provided plenty of material for writing novels and short stories, mainly in the mystery / crime genre but Caron also writes fantasy fiction.

Married with two grown up children and now living in Derbyshire, Caron has previously worked as a railway ticket clerk, a classroom assistant, a secondhand bookshop assistant, an archivist, and a University administrator.

Criss Cross coverWhen not plotting how to kill people, Caron can be found trawling the aisles of her local grocery store in pursuit of everyday items with lethal potential.  Other interests include history and family tree research and chatting on Facebook.

Caron self-published her first eBook, Criss Cross, on 1 January 2013, and is currently writing a sequel, which at the moment has the working title Cross Check.

Caron’s novel is available via and


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