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  1. #1
    Denise .
    Guest

    Flattery, ego boosting sought!

    Tee hee. Please tell me what you think of this flash fiction piece.


    “You can do this,” Carol told the mirror, staring into two pools of brown terror. “Just tell her how she made you feel.” Nodding her head in finality, frowning, she shrugged her shoulders and stood straighter. It had taken her twenty five years to get up the nerve to confront her stepmother. She glanced at her watch; time to go.

    She had made a lunch date with Rita, never letting on that it was anything other than that. Best to do it in public, for there was no telling what kind of reaction she might get. Rita was not a stable woman, not then and not now.

    Carol understands on an intellectual level that Rita’s constant criticism of her when she was growing up was bred of resentment. What sixteen-year-old wants to raise a six year old kid? And there was jealously, for Carol’s grandmother doted on her, favoring her over her other grandkids: Rita’s kids. Didn’t she understand that Irene had raised Carol for the first six years of her life? Obviously not, for she had used words like weapons, and they had pierced the tender fabric of a skinny, already insecure kid’s psyche, leaving permanent scars, ones that Carol feels need to see the light of day. The least Rita can do is acknowledge that she was wrong and apologize.

    “I am so glad you suggested this!” Rita beamed, hugging Carol as they stand in the foyer of the restaurant. “I’ve missed you!” As they walk inside, Rita adds, “I wish your daddy liked to eat out more often. I get so tired of cooking.”

    Carol’s mind is churning, her stomach tied in knots. How do you tell the woman who raised you that she did a ****ty job? Especially when she is sitting across from you in the present, smiling, sipping iced tea, the past a million miles behind her? And she looks so tired, wrung out. Living with Harry Burton is no bed of roses, Carol knows. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that this woman, this person who was supposed to lift her up, spent her time tearing the child who had been put in her care down.

    “There’s something I need to talk to you about.” Carol ventures, picking at her salad.

    Rita takes a bite of hers. “Ok. I’m all ears. You know you can talk to me about anything.”

    Carol’s mouth opens, but no words come out. Her resolve has gone as limp as her salad; coagulating in its Ranch dressing, like Carol’s nerve has coagulated into dread in her veins. She gazes at the bent head of her stepmother. Her once beautiful dark hair is thinning, turning quickly to gray, and the lines in her face tell the story of a chaotic life.

    “Carol? What’s wrong?” Rita’s face has turned into a mask of worry.

    “Nothing Mama”

    “But I thought…”

    “It’s not important. We’ll talk about it some other time. Let’s just enjoy our lunch.”

  2. #2
    C Bets
    Guest

    Re: Flattery, ego boosting sought!

    Well, before I do my "how did this affect me?" review, I want to point out this one piece of the paragraph:

    Especially when she is sitting across from you in the present, smiling, sipping iced tea, the past a million miles behind her? And she looks so tired, wrung out. Living with Harry Burton is no bed of roses, Carol knows. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that this woman, this person who was supposed to lift her up, spent her time tearing the child who had been put in her care down.

    First, I assume that Harry Burton is Rita's husband, Carol's dad, right? So can you fill us in on why living with him is no walk in the park? Or, is it intentional that the reader should come to this conclusion without spelling it out?

    Second, I think the last sentence should read:

    "But....... tearing down the child who had been put in her care."

    if you're going to use that description. Personally, I don't really like it. I think you can come up with something better, something not so generic.

    Okay. I must leave right now but I'll be back for more.

    C

  3. #3
    Grandmaster Sik
    Guest

    Re: Flattery, ego boosting sought!

    Denise, your critiques have always been just and confidence inspiring, so it pleases me that I can honestly express my liking for your style.
    Now allow me to pick it apart...

    In your opening sentence, there should be a comma after the word terror, and just beginning with a small J. The paragraph should then end with the closure of this quotation to show a pause.
    After "she shrugged her shoulders and stood straighter" there should be a semi-colon, but all of these petty grammatical matters pale in terms of your major mistake with this piece, and that being the mixing-up of past and present tense.

    The first two sentences are past (she told the mirror), whereas the rest of the text is formatted into present tense ("Carol understands on an intellectual level...").
    You however again confused these tenses in the sentence, "Rita beamed, hugging Carol as they stand in the foyer of the restaurant".
    By using "beamed" you make it past tense, and "stand" makes it present. It should either read beams and stand, or beamed and stood.

    I know that you write women's fiction and it's not really my cup of tea, but your dedication is admirable.

    I particularly like your topic heading, given my recent postings...

  4. #4
    Denise .
    Guest

    Re: Flattery, ego boosting sought!

    Well, heck, Mr. Sik, I was prepared for your ire. And by the way, I don't write women's fiction. I write dark tales of human suffering. This just happens to be a women's piece. I was truly surprised by your response, I posted this with my tongue in my cheek after reading your reply to Nathan. This place is whatever we want it to be.

    Anyway, thanks pointing out the grammar and tense issues.

    And C, I agree with you. Can't wait to see what else you have to say.

  5. #5
    C Bets
    Guest

    Re: Flattery, ego boosting sought!

    Hey D.

    Okay, this is what I got out of this.

    I can really see the dilemma Carol has. It comes through loud and clear.

    A couple of things that put a big wrench in it, however, is 1) the age difference between the two women and 2) the fact that Carol’s grandma raised her until she was six. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it isn’t sitting right somehow. Rita needs to be older, I think. Right now, they’re 31 and 41 – not exactly your typical mother/daughter spread, although I know it’s a step-relationship. Especially when she called her “mama” at the end. Just didn’t seem to fit.

    And, grandma didn’t really come up in the process – being raised for the first six years of her impressionable life HAD to have had more meaning than what you were letting on, in my opinion. And it had to have had an effect on Carol after being sent to live with daddy and his new wife; she didn’t own any part of the conflict while she was growing up? I can’t believe she was always a joy to live with either.

    Last, I was disappointed with the end. I wanted a much bigger Denise ending – something with a bang. Or, another direction –

    “Oh nothing really. How’s dad?”

    You know, just a smidgen of a cliff-hanger.

    But, all-in-all, you pretty much nailed down the conflict. I could feel what she was feeling.

    Well, haven’t done this for a while and now I’m tired.  How’s that?

    C

  6. #6
    Denise .
    Guest

    Re: Flattery, ego boosting sought!

    For the record, it's tored~

    you have given me much to munch on, my good friend. Thank you. It's all going in the story file till submission time.

  7. #7
    Denise .
    Guest

    Re: Flattery, ego boosting sought!

    C, I thought I'd let you know that my stepmother is ten years older than me, (I figure you knew this was autobiographical) and I was six, she sixteen, when my daddy married her. Also, I wasn't sent to live with them, I ran away and went to their house and begged to live with them.

    You made me laugh when you said I probably wasn't a joy to live with growing up, because its' true in a way. My grandma spoiled me, but my stepmother fixed that, oh yeah, but she did much more than unspoil me. She was emotionally abusive, sometimes physically abusive. I made good grades, babysat for them when they went out, did lots of chores, but still, she never failed to tell me how stupid something I said was or accuse me of lying, and on and on and on.

    Anyway, just thought I'd let you know that even though it doesn't seem like it fit, that's the way it was, and I did call her Mama because I wanted one that bad.

  8. #8
    Jon Patch
    Guest

    Re: Flattery, ego boosting sought!

    It would be much better to focus on the confrontation, laying out the perameters of the lunch meetign without all of the exposition. It is too much information at once and takes away from the tension. Let us learn over chapter(s) that Carol was fovored among step bro and sis, that daddy is rough, etc.

    Whether or not it is possible for step-mom to be ten years older is not the case. It gives great pause to the reader to do the math and realize that daddy married a girl of sixteen, then that fact alone lingers with an exclamation point. Sorry, but this leads me to the main criticism...

    I could tell after only a few words that this is a thinly veiled autobiography. I am certain that your life is unique and interesting, but it doesn't make great fiction. If you are confident that people want to hear your story, market it for what it is.

    Finally, never, ever start a story with someone doing a self-evaluation in the mirror. How overdone is that?

    Don't stop.

  9. #9
    C Bets
    Guest

    Re: Flattery, ego boosting sought!

    D -

    I figured it did have the element of autobio; most of your pieces do. But, I have to agree somewhat with Jon that just because it happened that way, doesn't mean it makes for exciting reading. I'm a perfect example of that with my own ms which has so many real events weaved in. I needed to change many things in order for it to be a good read, and even then I'm not so sure.

    But, in any event, I think this is a nice basis for something you could really run with.

    squeeze, squeeze,

    C

  10. #10
    Denise .
    Guest

    Re: Flattery, ego boosting sought!

    C, what I took from Patch's posts was not that this doesn't make for exciting reading, but that it doesn't make for exciting FICTION. I think he was telling me to write it as non-fiction, market it for what it is; the truth.

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