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  1. #1
    Bly Oxford

    Comments, please

    Okay, fellow scribes and sages, tell me how to make this orphan acceptable. Three times acceptance has looked promising, but she always returns with polite words such as interesting concept, good story, great psychological study, BUT no one knows where it fits in today’s market. Short of putting wings on Marlene (which is impossible) or changing the ending (which is inevitable from the beginning) what is wrong with this brat? The manuscript is less than 80,000 words, so length is not a question. Tell me, please.

    Marlene Scooby was a hard scrabble kid from Singletree, Oklahoma. Her mother, Lorna, never forgave her because her impending birth forced Lorna into a marriage with the only man she could get quickly. She married Alfred Scooby, the town’s handyman and junk dealer.

    Marlene escapes Singletree. In order to attend business school, she takes a job as night shipping clerk in the warehouse of Bolton Bits and Bolts, Inc., a grimy manufac-turing plant in Trinity, Kansas. Kevin Mathe, a living version of Apollo, with auburn hair and blue eyes begins coming around at night. Marlene is young, lonely, and nave. She does not notice the lack of animation in Kevin’s blue eyes. She thinks Kevin is the Transportation Director. To late, she discovers that Kevin is the pretty boy of the real director, the alcoholic Bolton sister, Anna.

    Marlene is no longer nave. Max Hobard, a one-unit truck driver with fleet dreams, is Marlene’s Alfred Scooby. Her daughter, Darla, whom she calls Darla Darlin’ is the only person that Marlene will ever love. When Darla is in the first grade, Max becomes concerned about Darla’s apparent mental slowness. He arranges for psychological testing. The diagnoses is Attention Deficit Disorder. Marlene is furious. She will not admit that her perfect child has a defect, also to make the admission that Darla is less than bright, she will have to acknowledge the source of her density. Darla overhears her parents’ argument when Marlene asserts that she will not have a dumbass daughter.
    Darla becomes terrified with a sense of great winged, twittering bats swooping and swirling in the vacuity of her mind. She tries to explain this to Max. He assures her that the bats are only dreams. Human ears cannot hear bats twittering. Through the years, the beating of wings and twittering of bats become a portent of her impending death.

    Marlene receives a letter from school saying that if Darla makes another failing grade, she will be put back to the fifth grade. Kind, gentle, sixth-grade math teacher, Mr. Abrams, is Darla’s first male conquest. She is amazed at how things worked out.
    Colton (a.k.a. Cyclops) Hargreaves sits on BBB’s Board of Directors. Once hatred for the Boltons was the catalyst that propelled him to the pinnacle of success. He admires Marlene’s business acumen, but he doesn’t trust her. He knows her secrets.

    Marlene uses a vicious blackmail scheme against her competitor to gain the office of president. Piqued because he is bypassed for the presidency in his family’s business, the last Bolton brother places his company stock with a broker and retires. Marlene is afraid that Colton will acquire the stock and become major stockholder. She is in financial difficulty. She has mortgaged her house and company stock to give Darla the luxu-ries she missed in her youth. She remains in denial that Darla has bought her way through school. She tries unsuccessfully to use one of Max’s companies as collateral to borrow money to buy the Bolton stock.

    Colton discovers that Marlene has used the blackmail scheme against her competitor. He directs the managers of his far-flung business empire to buy BBB stock until he has sufficient holdings to unseat Marlene, if and when it is necessary.
    Marlene decides that a career in the cosmetic field is a fittingly glamorous field for her Darla Darlin’. She sits on the Board of Regents of the University. Darla’s entrance into the university is assured. Marlene and a counselor work out Darla’s curriculum. She must major in Chemistry and minor in Commercial Art and Advertising.

    Frederick Forbes, assistant to the professor of her Chemistry class, cannot be bought with money. Darla trades her time and the last scintilla of human dignity for copies of each test.
    The need to feel human and desirable propels her into the bed of Clifford Edgecliff, her Commercial Arts instructor. She becomes pregnant. Abortion is not an option. The thought of death starts the bats swirling in her mind. She entraps Eddie Jones, her latest tutor.

    She and Eddie are married on commencement day. Darla gets drunk and falls down the steps of Eddie’s garage apartment. She miscarries. Things have again worked out for her. She no longer needs Eddie or the marriage. But Marlene does. Darla’s hospital statement with the explicit story has come through the BBB Insurance Office. Darla must stay in the marriage long enough to fall out of love with Eddie. Marlene will not let people think that her daughter is such a dumbass that she could get pregnant.

    The bewildering, numbing job search begins. Darla is abysmally incompetent. With each interview, the bats swirl faster. Through an old friend, Ross Thomas who is an executive of Trintronics, Inc., Marlene insinuates Darla into Colton’s organization.

    Max has become a power in the transportation industry. Since the BBB stock fight, he has known that Marlene would sacrifice his business to further her own ambition. He has assiduously transferred his corporate debt to two small companies. He has stayed in the marriage because of Darla. But now, Darla is married to a man that Max can trust. In a bogus poker game, he loses the other six profitable trucking companies to Eddie. In a settlement, Marlene will receive one-half of two insolvent companies. Now he must wait for an opportune time to ask for a divorce.

    In order to keep her job, Darla knows that she must become physically indispensable to Ross Thomas. She causes a small revolution in his division, and indirectly she causes his death.
    Darian McCrory, a handsome, down on his luck high roller comes to Trinity. Of all the men who have helped her or used her in her gauntlet of life, Darian is the only man for whom Darla feels sexual passion. For Marlene, Darian is pay back time for Kevin Mathe and the old men she used as steps up the ladder. Mother and daughter keep Darian secret from the other.

    Marlene replaces Edra Kroll, her assistant, with Darian. Colton is enraged. He calls a stockholder meeting to unseat Marlene from the president’s office. Max discovers that Marlene has acquired a pretty boy as old Anna Bolton had done long ago. He also discovers that Anna’s pretty boy is Darla’s biological father—sufficient grounds to ask for a divorce.

    Marlene goes to Darla’s apartment and finds Darla and Darian taking a shower together. Marlene tells her that Darian is merchandise and that she has bought him. Darla rushes out into a rainstorm. She gets on the freeway, but the dumbass people won’t get out of her way and let her outrun the pain.

    A freeway overpass is under construction near Devil’s Tantrum Mountain. Rain has stopped work for the day, but a truck is coming in with construction material. Two men are left to remove the barriers to the partially completed ramp. Darla sees the open lane ahead. She zooms up the ramp and into a concrete pillar held in the jaws of a construction crane. The bats come quickly. Marlene has always wanted her daughter to soar. Darla soars toward Devil’s Tantrum. The descent is swift. But things have worked out for Darla Darlin’. She will never have to look for another job.

  2. #2

    Re: Comments, please

    Hello Bly,

    The idea is sound. The problem I see is it reads like a Soap Opera or an updated Peyton Place type story. The other thing is there doesn't seem to be a compelling reason for the story to end the way it does.

    Hope this helps.

    Best wishes

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