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  1. #1
    Dawn Prince
    Guest

    Opening Paragraph

    Hello All
    Okay, let's try this again. Missing words. Notepad moves my sentences around when I click my mouse in a certain way I have yet to figure out.

    I hope your weekend is turning out to be fabulous. It is smoldering here. Anyhoo, I want to know what you all think of the opening of a piece I am working on. I have made it short to spare you from reading more than you want to. Thanking you in advance. It is the opening.

    After The Funeral

    It is like burying him all over again -- putting him away piece by piece into cardboard boxes from the A&P and labeling them for storage in the attic or off to the goodwill box to be picked over in the presence of strangers. Packing away his belongings seems like this strange ritual I am performing for myself because I have to make myself believe that he is actually gone. I have to make his death real for me. I take his clothes out of the drawers, and I fold him away into compartments, depending on their newness, laying my grief out in this mock burial of my father. I unfold **** white undershirts that once touched his skin, and I close my eyes pressing my face againt the soft cotton--only to fold them up again. I never learned how to mourn properly. I can't cry those big, quivery tears that Aunt Maddie shed on cue at funerals. Those obligatory, indistinguishable from weddings and happy occasion tears. My grief is like the brown-paper wrapping kind--concealed for my own private unraveling in the middle of the night.

    Should I move the paragraph starting with "I never learned how to mourn properly" from where it is and have the opening end at "I close my eyes pressing my face againt the soft cotton-- only to fold them up again."

    Dawn



  2. #2
    Ira Wolfe
    Guest

    Re: Opening Paragraph

    Hi Dawn,

    Good piece. Clear and unpretentious, yet packing an emotional punch. I would change:

    "My grief is like the brown-paper wrapping kind"

    to something like:

    My grief is the brown paper wrapping kind, or

    My grief is like brown paper wrapping

    But that's just me nitpicking. On the whole I liked the piece. And I would leave it just the way it is, without breaking it up into two grafs.

  3. #3
    C Bets
    Guest

    Re: Opening Paragraph

    I like the scene, but I think you're right that you should separate the paragraph a little. Begin another with "I never learned. . ." Other than that, I like it.

  4. #4
    jill smith
    Guest

    Re: Opening Paragraph

    I like the part about grieving as the beginning of this piece. People who have lost a dear one will relate to holding back tears and the uncertainty of the proper way to grieve.
    The comparison to the paper bag covoering up the true grieving process for a private moment for me should be changed a bit to " grieving in public for me can be compared to a brown paper wrapping you place on your emotions, so others won't be able to view your flowing tears raining on what's left of your futile existance".

    Maybe a bit dramatic, huh? Ah well, sorry about my overkill.

    Jill

  5. #5
    jill smith
    Guest

    Re: Opening Paragraph

    I would change the beginning to be about the lack of skill in greiving properly.
    The comparison with the brown paper wrapping doesn't work for me. I would say something like" My emotional breakdown should never be made public. No, dear me, it should be like brown paper wrapping you use to cover a private photograph or a cherished moment of your life! Ah, how can I express my feelings so callously in regards to the open wound in my heart? Perhaps, my pain will subside someday, yet at this very instance nothing can convince me that life is worth a damn at all!

    Perhaps a bit too dramatic, huh?

    Jill Smith

  6. #6
    L Bea
    Guest

    Re: Opening Paragraph

    I stumbled over the first sentence. At the very least I think you should replace the phrase in the presence of to just by. In addition to that though, I am struggling with the inconsistency in the verb(s) (putting and labeling) or lack of verb to tie in off to the goodwill. I think you need to make that sentence a bit tighter/clearer to make it strong.

    This has emotion in it and yet not too overdone. Nice read.

    ~ Bea

  7. #7
    Matya Dio
    Guest

    Re: Opening Paragraph

    Hi,

    okay... I'm not a native, but I'll give it a shot.

    I think this sentence -

    ***

    Packing away his belongings *seems like this* strange ritual I am performing for myself because I have to make myself believe that he is actually gone.

    ***

    - would read cleaner this way -

    Packing away his belongings *feels like a* strange ritual I am performing for myself because I have to make myself believe that he is actually gone


    I enjoyed the excerpt.

    Best of luck.

    M.D.

  8. #8
    Bart Scrivener
    Guest

    Re: Opening Paragraph



    Just my opinion:

    Nice first sentence, but change "in the presence of" to "by." And take out "box." So: "...labeling them for storage in the attic or off to the goodwill to be picked over by strangers."

    I don't think you need this:

    "Packing away his belongings seems like this strange ritual I am performing for myself because I have to make myself believe that he is actually gone. I have to make his death real for me."

    We know that's what she's doing. You're *showing* us that. You don't need to tell us, too. The first line is very specific and concrete, and then you give us this abstract (and kind of trite) language that tells too much.

    And then you go back to great, concrete images. In my opinion, the abstract sentences just pull the reader out of the scene.

  9. #9
    Dawn Prince
    Guest

    Re: Opening Paragraph

    Hello All:
    Thanks for the feedback. Great suggestions. Stuff I had not spotted. Read the improved paragraph and I've added more just in case you would like to read further.

    Bart, I liked your suggestions and it actually reads a whole lot better. Thank YOu.

    L-Bea. Gosh, you know I have been struggling with that sentence and I now see the verbs and such. Thanks for that.

    C-bets, I felt that line about mourning should be later on. Matya. I changed it to feel, but I decided to lose the sentence as per Barts suggestion.

    Jill:
    Thanks for the critique. I like your take, but that would change the tone of my piece drastically as that is not her voice or her language. Thank you as every input helps me to write better.


    [B][i]After The Funeral[b][i]


    It is like burying him all over again--putting him away piece by piece into cardboard boxes from the A&P and labeling them to be stored in the attic or to be sent off to the Goodwill to be picked over by strangers. I take his clothes out of the drawers, and I fold him away into compartments, depending on their newness, laying my grief out in this mock burial of my father. I unfold ****-white undershirts that once touched his skin, and I close my eyes pressing my face against the soft cotton -- only to fold them up again. I need to make his death real for me. I perform this sequence over and over until the hallway is crowded with cardboard boxes and black garbage bags that stretch under the weight of the clothes.


    It's been several hours after the funeral, and I am locked away in his room while Maddie is downstairs leading her after the funeral ritual of having paisley old ladies back to the house for celestial seasonings tea in orange spice and gingersnap cookies all the way from England. The aroma of steeping tea is racing up between the floors.
    In the sitting room, just below the bedroom, the crowd drinks tea and talks in quiet voices. Through the floorboards, I hear their muffled voices, and the clinking of fine china--like a ceremonial banging of teaspoons as they stir their tea. They stir as if they have nothing but time. Never mind that they are, mostly, seventy and eighty.

    There are only little old ladies left on my father's side. At these things, there is always talk about what a nice little send off it was as if the dearly departed were going on some Mediterranean cruise with that Barry Mannilow song, Lola, playing in the background. I, on the other hand, never learned how to mourn properly. I can't cry on cue like Aunt Maddie does at funerals. I canít shed big, quivery, and indistinguishable from weddings and happy occasion tears. My grief is like brown wrapping paper, concealed for my own private unraveling in the middle of the night.

    On the table with the lilacs is the last picture of my father and me. It was taken five years ago at a book signing at the local bookstore. I am surprised that he had it framed. It is my first book of short stories, and my father has a tweed arm across my shoulders. We don't share any sort of resemblance except for the dark unruly, curly hair; mine shoulder and puffed out to the sides. My high cheekbones give away the exuberance of the moment while my father's English face tries to contain itself while trying to properly give the affect of the proud father. He looks as if he had tried on different faces for this picture in the mirror and was caught in between poses as the flash went off before he could make the proper face. The picture makes my father look ridiculous and buffoonish.

    I pick up the picture and examine it more closely to look at my mother's pin in the folds of my scarf. I 'd hardly remembered that I had worn the pin that day. I set the picture down amidst the remnants of a life interrupted. Things were just as he had left them. These things -- the sum of Harper tricks me into thinking that I will go downstairs and find him in his Morris chair, bespectacled, but still squinting at his morning paper with a cup of Earl Grey tea on the table, its Old-World English aroma wafting through the air.

    I can smell him everywhere in the house. Closing my eyes, and inhaling deeply, I can hold him in my head a little longer. The Lilacs, which used to be his favorite, are slowly dying, and no amount of water and sunlight will keep them from their fate, and though they are wilting, they give off a haunting, lingering smell that reminds me of a smoldering, long goodbye. With the afternoon breeze blowing just so between the Priscilla, his tobacco smell still lingers, and I can almost inhale him. I'm afraid that his tobacco smell will fade along with the lilacs when the breeze fades to little more than a whisper. And all that will be left is that familiar creaking of old man feet sliding across the bare floorboards.

    Mementos, pieces long forgotten in back closets and shoe boxes--things uncovered here and there bring back memories. My life up to age fifteen is revealed, mostly, in black and white shots taken by my father, the amateur photographer who preferred the graininess of black and white pictures. In the desk drawer, I find more envelopes stuffed with pictures and flip through them hurriedly--half-forgotten memories flashing by in quick frames. The fading dog-eared snap shots, with the white borders, hold traces of my father.

    As I thumb through the moments of his life, there is a picture of my mother than stuns me, and I sit back on my heels holding it up to the light bulb as if shining light on it would tell me about the reasons behind the picture. It is of my mother in a black and white summer dress that shows her thin freckled shoulders as she sits on a wooden and iron park bench in a courtyard overgrown with a variety of shrubs and ivy climbing the walls. I don't recognize the place. My mother is expressionless. She has always had one of those expressionless faces void of even a raised eyebrow or a curl of the lip. But it is more than my motherís bland face that intrigues, it is the date on the back of the picture that leaves questions in my mind.

    Dawn

  10. #10
    Dawn Prince
    Guest

    Re: Opening Paragraph

    Hello All:
    Oops, sorry about the italics
    Thanks for the feedback. Great suggestions. Stuff I had not spotted. Read the improved paragraph and I've added more just in case you would like to read further.

    Bart, I liked your suggestions and it actually reads a whole lot better. Thank YOu.

    L-Bea. Gosh, you know I have been struggling with that sentence and I now see the verbs and such. Thanks for that.

    C-bets, I felt that line about mourning should be later on. Matya. I changed it to feel, but I decided to lose the sentence as per Barts suggestion.

    Jill:
    Thanks for the critique. I like your take, but that would change the tone of my piece drastically as that is not her voice or her language. Thank you as every input helps me to write better.


    After The Funeral


    It is like burying him all over again--putting him away piece by piece into cardboard boxes from the A&P and labeling them to be stored in the attic or to be sent off to the Goodwill to be picked over by strangers. I take his clothes out of the drawers, and I fold him away into compartments, depending on their newness, laying my grief out in this mock burial of my father. I unfold ****-white undershirts that once touched his skin, and I close my eyes pressing my face against the soft cotton -- only to fold them up again. I need to make his death real for me. I perform this sequence over and over until the hallway is crowded with cardboard boxes and black garbage bags that stretch under the weight of the clothes.


    It's been several hours after the funeral, and I am locked away in his room while Maddie is downstairs leading her after the funeral ritual of having paisley old ladies back to the house for celestial seasonings tea in orange spice and gingersnap cookies all the way from England. The aroma of steeping tea is racing up between the floors.
    In the sitting room, just below the bedroom, the crowd drinks tea and talks in quiet voices. Through the floorboards, I hear their muffled voices, and the clinking of fine china--like a ceremonial banging of teaspoons as they stir their tea. They stir as if they have nothing but time. Never mind that they are, mostly, seventy and eighty.

    There are only little old ladies left on my father's side. At these things, there is always talk about what a nice little send off it was as if the dearly departed were going on some Mediterranean cruise with that Barry Mannilow song, Lola, playing in the background. I, on the other hand, never learned how to mourn properly. I can't cry on cue like Aunt Maddie does at funerals. I canít shed big, quivery, and indistinguishable from weddings and happy occasion tears. My grief is like brown wrapping paper, concealed for my own private unraveling in the middle of the night.

    On the table with the lilacs is the last picture of my father and me. It was taken five years ago at a book signing at the local bookstore. I am surprised that he had it framed. It is my first book of short stories, and my father has a tweed arm across my shoulders. We don't share any sort of resemblance except for the dark unruly, curly hair; mine shoulder and puffed out to the sides. My high cheekbones give away the exuberance of the moment while my father's English face tries to contain itself while trying to properly give the affect of the proud father. He looks as if he had tried on different faces for this picture in the mirror and was caught in between poses as the flash went off before he could make the proper face. The picture makes my father look ridiculous and buffoonish.

    I pick up the picture and examine it more closely to look at my mother's pin in the folds of my scarf. I 'd hardly remembered that I had worn the pin that day. I set the picture down amidst the remnants of a life interrupted. Things were just as he had left them. These things -- the sum of Harper tricks me into thinking that I will go downstairs and find him in his Morris chair, bespectacled, but still squinting at his morning paper with a cup of Earl Grey tea on the table, its Old-World English aroma wafting through the air.

    I can smell him everywhere in the house. Closing my eyes, and inhaling deeply, I can hold him in my head a little longer. The Lilacs, which used to be his favorite, are slowly dying, and no amount of water and sunlight will keep them from their fate, and though they are wilting, they give off a haunting, lingering smell that reminds me of a smoldering, long goodbye. With the afternoon breeze blowing just so between the Priscilla, his tobacco smell still lingers, and I can almost inhale him. I'm afraid that his tobacco smell will fade along with the lilacs when the breeze fades to little more than a whisper. And all that will be left is that familiar creaking of old man feet sliding across the bare floorboards.

    Mementos, pieces long forgotten in back closets and shoe boxes--things uncovered here and there bring back memories. My life up to age fifteen is revealed, mostly, in black and white shots taken by my father, the amateur photographer who preferred the graininess of black and white pictures. In the desk drawer, I find more envelopes stuffed with pictures and flip through them hurriedly--half-forgotten memories flashing by in quick frames. The fading dog-eared snap shots, with the white borders, hold traces of my father.

    As I thumb through the moments of his life, there is a picture of my mother than stuns me, and I sit back on my heels holding it up to the light bulb as if shining light on it would tell me about the reasons behind the picture. It is of my mother in a black and white summer dress that shows her thin freckled shoulders as she sits on a wooden and iron park bench in a courtyard overgrown with a variety of shrubs and ivy climbing the walls. I don't recognize the place. My mother is expressionless. She has always had one of those expressionless faces void of even a raised eyebrow or a curl of the lip. But it is more than my motherís bland face that intrigues, it is the date on the back of the picture that leaves questions in my mind.

    Dawn

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