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  1. #1
    Allison Moreser
    Guest

    If anyone has a second, I'd appreciate feedback...

    Hi there,

    This is the opening scene of my novel and I'm struggling with it. I would appreciate any constructive criticism if you have a minute to spare.

    Thanks so much!


    If Erin hadnít left work early she would have been spared the bitter sting of betrayal.

    But she did leave work an hour early on a chilly afternoon in February. It was unusual for her to go home before 5:00pm; no flex time at her company. Strict 8 Ė 5 hours and unless you had a doctorís appointment, you had better adhere to that. Her boyfriend Jay was coming over for Chinese food and wine, so the timing was perfect. Normally they preferred to dine out on Friday evenings, but because Erinís roommate Tristan and her fiancť were leaving for the weekend, the apartment was all hers.

    But that was all before the betrayal, before she walked into her apartment half an hour early, after she had rented a movie and picked up dinner.

    Seeing her boyfriendís passionate embrace with Tristan was harsh pain, the kind of sharp pain you experience when you stub your baby toe so hard it breaks. The kind of pain that hurts so bad that you donít know whether to cry, swear, scream, or hit something, so you do all of the above, going crazy until the pain subsides.

    Erin went crazy. She cried, swore, screamed, and slapped Jay as he ducked out of the apartment trying to apologize, telling her he could explain. Tristan was acting nonchalant. It was as if she didnít know how to react, so she shut up and played dumb. It only fueled Erinís fury.

    She tripped over her Chinese takeout bag as she ran out of the apartment, gasping for air. The aroma of Chinese was unleashed like a mad pitbull and rice and unidentifiable tidbits of food landed over the floor. Later when she went back to the apartment the smell made her nauseated and the floor was sticky from the bright red sauce the rice was lying in. It reminded Erin of blood. If she had known then that the possibility of it actually being blood was so real, she might have had an inkling of grace for her friend.

    But that was before her rage had calmed, before she knew that Tristan had vanished, before the cops got involved.



  2. #2
    Four Strawberries
    Guest

    Re: If anyone has a second, I'd appreciate feedback...

    Hi Allison,

    Just my opinion....

    I think this has potential. I think that this could use a little bit more telling and less showing. For example, you say, Tristan was acting nonchalant. How was Tristan acting nonchalant? What, specifically, did Tristan do that was nonchalant?

    I like the cliffhanger at the end of the section.

    Best of luck,
    Strawberries

  3. #3
    Four Strawberries
    Guest

    Re: If anyone has a second, I'd appreciate feedback...

    Woops! I meant more showing and less telling.....

    Strawberries

  4. #4
    Glen T. Brock
    Guest

    Re: If anyone has a second, I'd appreciate feedback...

    Allison,

    I basically agree with Strawberries. I'd go a step further. Get rid of that first sentence entirely. It telegraphs your plot. That's not good for building tension. When your character walks into the room to find her boyfriend embracing her best friend the reader should be as surprised as she is.

    Glen T. Brock

  5. #5
    leslee
    Guest

    Re: If anyone has a second, I'd appreciate feedback...

    Just my opinion, feel free to ignore:

    Not trying to hurt your feelings, but it needs a lot of re-writing.

    "If Erin hadnít left work early she would have been spared the bitter sting of betrayal."

    I'm sure you know "bitter sting of betrayal" is a cliche. If you like it, that's up to you, but I'll bet you can write something more unique.

    "But she did leave work an hour early on a chilly afternoon in February. It was unusual for her to go home before 5:00pm; no flex time at her company. Strict 8 Ė 5 hours and unless you had a doctorís appointment, you had better adhere to that."

    This is a lot of repetition about how you can't get off work early where she works. If I were editing this paragraph, I'd start like this:

    "But she did leave work early on a chilly afternoon in February. It was unusual for her to go home before 5:00 p.m. Business hours were strictly 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., unless you had a doctor appointment."

    And I'd work from that.

    "Her boyfriend Jay was coming over for Chinese food and wine, so the timing was perfect. Normally they preferred to dine out on Friday evenings, but because Erinís roommate Tristan and her fiancť were leaving for the weekend, the apartment was all hers."

    Boyfriend Jay. Roommate Tristan. Her fiance. All hers. Too many names dropped in a single paragraph. All telling, no showing.

    "But that was all before the betrayal, before she walked into her apartment half an hour early, after she had rented a movie and picked up dinner."

    Not thrilling, but okay.

    "Seeing her boyfriendís passionate embrace with Tristan was harsh pain, the kind of sharp pain you experience when you stub your baby toe so hard it breaks. The kind of pain that hurts so bad that you donít know whether to cry, swear, scream, or hit something, so you do all of the above, going crazy until the pain subsides."

    Show us the embrace. Walk her in. Don't just tell us about it. Show the pain. Don't tell us. Saying, "cry, swear, scream, hit something," is all telling, no showing. It doesn't move the reader.

    "Erin went crazy. She cried, swore, screamed, and slapped"

    Again, a list of responses. If she's swearing, have her swear.

    "Jay as he ducked out of the apartment trying to apologize, telling her he could explain. Tristan was acting nonchalant.


    Have him tell her. What is he saying? And you're jumping tenses here. "Tristan acted nonchalant."

    "It was as if she didnít know how to react, so she shut up and played dumb. It only fueled Erinís fury."

    She's acting nonchalant. What does that mean? What's she doing with her body? Standing? Sitting? How is she playing dumb?

    "She tripped over her Chinese takeout bag as she ran out of the apartment, gasping for air. The aroma of Chinese was unleashed like a mad pitbull and rice and unidentifiable tidbits of food landed over the floor."

    Chinese food is a mad pitbull. That I don't get at all. And how did she smell it if she was out of the apartment?

    "Later when she went back to the apartment the smell made her nauseated"

    Now it makes sense that she smells the food.

    "and the floor was sticky from the bright red sauce the rice was lying in."

    Leave it at "floor was sticky with bright red sauce."

    "It reminded Erin of blood. If she had known then that the possibility of it actually being blood was so real, she might have had an inkling of grace for her friend."

    "An inkling of grace" doesn't work.

    "But that was before her rage had calmed, before she knew that Tristan had vanished, before the cops got involved."

    Way too much in one sentence. Again, it's all telling, no showing.

    Allison, you may have an interesting piece here, but you have to make it a lot more immediate. It isn't enough to say that people are angry or violent or heartbroken. You have to show it. And your scene here is too typical: caught with a friend, the guy runs out the door. If something special is happening, make us know it.

  6. #6
    Brian Libby
    Guest

    Re: If anyone has a second, I'd appreciate feedback...

    Is Tristan a woman's name? The archetype Tristan was Isolde's lover.

  7. #7
    Bob Highland
    Guest

    Re: If anyone has a second, I'd appreciate feedback...

    I think the biggest issue you have here, Allison, is that you are (presumably) wanting to kick off this story in Erin's point of view? But it doesn't feel like it. It reads more like a distant narrative.

    I think you need to get us into Erin's head straight away. Good stories generally include dramatic scenes involving conflict, and you're wasting a good potential opening here by summarising it in a few sentences of narrative. IMO, it would be much more effective played out in dialogue, with only the necessary introductory and supporting narrative (from Erin's POV).

  8. #8
    Jan Helman
    Guest

    Re: If anyone has a second, I'd appreciate feedback...

    On the name Tristan, my first reaction was, "Erin's roommate is a guy." Then I noticed the reference to "her fiancť."

  9. #9
    Allison Moreser
    Guest

    Re: If anyone has a second, I'd appreciate feedback...

    Thank you so much for everything!

    This definitely gives me some great tips for improvement.

    (Leslee, you didn't hurt my feelings. I'm very grateful for the detailed time and attention you gave me.)

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