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  1. #1
    C LW
    Guest

    Please advise on opening - 3rd rewrite

    Please advise of the opening of the following:


    Victoria Paige was immediately inundated by feelings of anger and bitterness as she carefully examined her reflection in the bathroom mirror. The bright morning sunlight beamed through the bathroom window and instantly exposed her unsightly black eye. Thankfully, the other areas on her brown oval shape face remained untouched from the fight with her husband days before.
    Desperate for a little satisfaction that morning, Vicki opened her makeup drawer and retrieved a tube of “IMAN” medium brown liquid concealor and a small square sponge applicator. Using her left index finger she slightly pulled down the skin under her right eye and softly applied the concealor over the bruising to no avail. Disgusted, she tossed the makeup applicator on the vanity and slammed the drawer shut.
    Vicki tiptoed across the cold tile floor toward the full-length mirror suspended from the solid oak bathroom door. She removed her gold silk robe letting it fall gracefully to the floor. The warm sun light revealed her tall, lean, curved brown body of 45 years. Folding her arms across her large breasts she awkwardly turned to the right to see if the bruising on her arm and leg had disappeared. She was pleased to discover all injuries on her body had vanished. However, she noticed the twinkle in her deep-set brown eyes had also vanished.
    Vicki reached back into the vanity drawer and removed her favorite bronze lip gross and applied it neatly to her sexy full lips. Continuing to glare at her refection; unpleasant thoughts raced through her head, “I can't present myself to my employees, and clients or the general public with a black eye. Pam and I worked too damn hard to build the image of the Agency.”
    Vicki and her only child Pamela Ann owned and operated a successful advertizing and marketing agency for the past three years. It was the first female owned African-American business of its kind in Washington, D.C. The money was great and the personal reward was even greater.
    Flopping down on the chair next to the Jacuzzi tub, Vicki exclaimed, “If I had just kept my ass here at home, I would not be in this mess right now.” Never-the-less, she went on vacation to Jamaica with her husband Douglas Paige. It never occurred to her she would be returning home with a black eye.
    Vicki pushed herself to a standing position by resting both hands on her knees. Straightening her back, she strolled into the bedroom to continue preparing for the day. She grabbed her hair brush sitting on the dresser and brushed her shoulder length brown hair backwards into an attractive flip. She placed a gold barrett at the base of her mane to hold her hair in place.
    Vicki was anxious to move forward in her decision. With a heavy heart she picked up the cordless phone and called her office.
    “I need to let the office know I will be out for at least another week,” she grumbled to herself.
    Louise, the Office Manger, adjusted her earpiece, “Thank you for calling Victoria Paige, how may I direct your call?”
    “Good morning Louise, this is Vicki,” she murmured, applying a second coat of lip gloss.
    Louise was surprised to hear her voice, as Vicki is usually in the office before her, “Hey Lady, how was Jamaica?”
    Vicki stiffened, and lied, “It was wonderful Louise, that’s why I’m calling. I will be out for another week. I will need you to review my appointments for this week and reschedule them for any day next week.”
    Louise opened Vicki's appointment book and scanned it quickly, “Absolutely Vicki,” she assured her. “Now, would you like me to check with Pam to see if she could handle any of these meeting for you?”
    “I was going to talk to her about that myself,” Vicki informed Louise. “Let me speak to her please.”
    “She just left for the Pink photo shoot Vicki.” Louise was surprised for a second time, because Vicki had scheduled the shoot before leaving for her vacation.
    “She won’t be back in the office until later this afternoon, but you can reach her on her cell phone,” Louise advised her boss.
    “Good,” Vicki thought to herself. She really did not want to speak to her at that moment.
    “Okay, Louise just put me in her voice mail.”
    “Okay, talk to you later.” Louise knew something was wrong. She knew the two women very well, and she learned long ago how to read between the lines.
    Voice mail: “This is Pamela Paige, of Victoria Paige Agency. Today is Monday, April 25. I will be out on location until 4:30 p.m. I will be checking my messages periodically throughout the day. Please leave a detailed message, and I will return your call at my earliest convenience.”
    “Hey Pam, this is your mother, I've decided to extend my vacation for an extra week,” she said while walking into the bedroom. “I will be back late Saturday night and back in the office next Monday. I am sure you and Louise have everything under control; I will call you later tonight. Talk to you later Baby,” she hung up the phone and sat down on the bed.
    “At least I have a week to think things over, and wait for this black eye to disappear,” she thought.
    “Now, I need to get away from Doug Paige; he will be back from the construction site later this afternoon,” she uttered to herself. “I really should go down to Florida and see Helena. Forget what Doug said, I haven’t seen my sister in years.”
    Vicki was the older of Thomas and Betty Stanton’s two girls. They raised the girls in a comfortable upper-middle class life-style, with income's provided by educating in the Frederick County School system. Vicki was bright, intelligent, a no nonsense young girl, she always had a five-year plan for most of her teen years. She dated very little in high school; but she found love in the arts, books, and movies. While Helena lived a carefree existence, she was outgoing, stubborn, self-centered, and found her love in older men. Despite their differences the girl's grow-up very close, and respected each others life choice's.
    After high school graduation Vicki up held family tradition and choose to continue her education attending New York University. In true form, Helena moved to Miami with her current boyfriend to the surprise of no one. Vicki often wished she had the courage to do such a thing.
    “I’ll go see Helena, and get away from this mess for the week,” Vicki thought to herself. Again, she picked up the phone and dialed out.
    “Hello,” a warm sexy voice answered.
    Helena had made an interesting life for herself in Florida. She most recently purchased a two-bedroom Condo in South Beach and was living alone. She had never married or had children due to her continued lack of commitment to anyone.
    “Hey Girl, it’s Vicki,” she said laying back on her California king size bed.
    “Girl, I was just thinking about you. How was Jamaica?” Helena was surprised to hear from her sister so soon. They had just spoken several day's prior when Vicki canceled her visit.
    “It was great until the last days,” Vicki replied.



  2. #2
    Sarah H.
    Guest

    Re: Please advise on opening - 3rd rewrite

    Hi CLW, sounds like you have the beginning of an interesting story here. But, it's top heavy with adjectives and you head hop a bit. I quickly went through(very rough, of course) and took out some of the adjectives and wordiness and cut this excerpt down by about 300 words. Sometimes less is more. Good luck with it.

    ***

    Victoria Paige felt angry as she examined her reflection in the bathroom mirror. The morning sunlight beamed through the window and revealed her black eye. Thankfully, the other areas on her face remained unscarred from the fight with her husband the day before. Desperate for a little satisfaction, Vicki opened her makeup drawer and retrieved a tube of “IMAN” medium brown liquid concealor and a sponge applicator. Using her index finger she pulled down the skin under her right eye and applied the concealor to the bruising. It didn't work. "Damn." She tossed the applicator on the vanity and slammed the drawer shut.

    Vicki walked across the tile floor toward the mirror suspended from the solid oak bathroom door. She removed her robe letting it fall to the floor. The sunlight revealed her tall, lean, curved, forty-five year old body. Folding her arms across her large breasts she turned to the right to see if the bruising on her arms and legs had disappeared. She was pleased to discover that they had vanished. She also noticed, though, that the twinkle in her deep-set brown eyes had vanished.

    She reached back into the vanity drawer, (hadn’t she had to walk across the floor to get to the mirror) found her favorite bronze lip gross and applied it to her lips. Continuing to stare at her refection, unpleasant thoughts raced through her mind. “I can't go to work looking like this. Pam and I worked too hard to build the Agency’s image.”

    Vicki and her daughter, Pamela Ann, owned and operated a successful advertising. It was the only female owned African-American advertising agency in D.C. The money was great and the personal rewards even greater.

    Flopping down on the chair next to the tub, Vicki said, “If I had just kept my ass at home, I would not be in this mess right now.” Never-the-less, she had gone on vacation to Jamaica with her husband Douglas Paige. It never occurred to her she would be return home with a black eye.

    She stood up and strolled into the bedroom to prepare for the day. She grabbed her hair brush and brushed her shoulder length hair into an attractive flip.

    Vicki was anxious to move forward with her decision. She picked up the phone and called her office.

    “Thank you for calling Victoria Paige, how may I direct your call?”

    “Good morning Louise, this is Vicki,” she said while applying a second coat of lip gloss.

    Louise was surprised to hear her voice, as Vicki was usually in the office before her. “Hey Lady, how was Jamaica?”

    Vicki stiffened. “It was wonderful. Actually, that’s why I’m calling. I’ll be out for another week. Could you go over my appointments and reschedule them for next week.”

    “Absolutely Vicki,” she said. “Would you like for me to check with Pam to see if she can handle any of these appointments?”

    “I’ll speak to her myself. Can you put me through to her?”

    “She just left for the Pink photo shoot. She won’t be back in the office until later this afternoon, but you can probably get her on her cell phone.” Louise said.

    Good, Vicki thought. She didn’t want to speak to her right now anyway.

    “That’s okay, just put me in her voice mail.”

    “Okay, talk to you later.” Louise said.

    Voice mail: “This is Pamela Paige, of Victoria Paige Agency. Today is Monday, April 25. I will be out on location until 4:30 p.m. I will be checking my messages throughout the day. Please leave a message, and I will return your call at my earliest convenience.”

    “Hey Pam, it’s me. I've decided to stay an extra week. I’ll be back Saturday night and in the office next Monday. I am sure you and Louise have everything under control; I’ll call you later tonight. Talk to you later, baby.”

    She hung up the phone and sat down on the bed. At least I have a week to think things over and wait for this black eye to disappear, she thought. I need to get away from Doug Paige; he will be back from the construction site later this afternoon. I really should go down to Florida and see Helena. Forget what Doug said, I haven’t seen my sister in years.

    Vicki was the older of Thomas and Betty Stanton’s two girls. She and Helena had been raised in a comfortable upper-middle class home and educated in the Frederick County School system. Vicki was a bright, intelligent, no nonsense girl who had a ‘five-year plan’ for most of her teen years. She dated little in high school; but she found love in the arts, books and movies. Helena, on the other hand, lived a more carefree existence. She was outgoing, stubborn, self-centered, and loved older men. Despite their differences the girls were close and respected each others life choices.

    After high school, Vicki attended New York University and Helena moved to Miami with her current boyfriend. Vicki often wished she had the courage to what Helena did.

    “I’ll go see Helena, and get away from this mess,” Vicki thought. She picked up the phone again and dialed.

    “Hello,” a sexy voice said.

    Helena had made an interesting life for herself in Florida. She recently purchased a two-bedroom Condo in South Beach and was living alone. She had never married or had children.

    “Hey Girl, it’s Vicki,” she said laying back on her king size bed.

    “Girl, I was just thinking about you. How was Jamaica?”

    “It was great until the last day,” Vicki replied.

  3. #3
    Smiling Curmudgeon
    Guest

    Re: Please advise on opening - 3rd rewrite

    C,

    Consider being more economical and direct with your writing.

    Here's a quick and dirty cut at your first paragraqph---

    "Victoria Paige was inundated by anger and bitterness as she examined her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Bright morning sunlight beaming through the window highlighted the ugliness of her black eye. She was thankful the rest of her brown oval face remained..."

    Hope this will give you ideas.



    cur

  4. #4
    Eyan Carrington
    Guest

    Re: Please advise on opening - 3rd rewrite

    C, I struggled with the extra words.

    If you'll allow me, let me put my editor's head on and take the first paragraph. I warn you, though, I am going to over-edit just to emphasise how much you can cut down your prose. If you follow all of this, it might look a little too sparse, but I am simply illustrating a point!

    >immediately inundated - delete 'immediately'.

    >Victoria Paige was immediately inundated by feelings of anger and bitterness - how about 'Victoria Paige felt bitter', which is less wordy and more active.

    >carefully examined - careful of that unnecessary 'carefully'.

    >The bright morning sunlight beamed through the bathroom window and instantly exposed her unsightly black eye - I'd have it beaming on her black eye directly, and not even mention the window (this is implied because that's where sun comes from).

    >The bright morning sunlight - I'd delete 'bright' as its luminosity isn't relevant.

    >instantly exposed - delete 'instantly'.

    >brown oval shape face - revealing someone's features in a mirror is a little cliche.

    >oval shape face - delete 'shape', because oval is a shape. Then again, I like how the words 'shape' and 'face' roll together.

    >Thankfully - I've made my feelings clear about 'ly' words, but I'll allow you this one!

    >Thankfully, the other areas on her brown oval face remained untouched from the fight with her husband days before - can you reference her fight in some other way rather than from an absense of bruises on the rest of her face? Can you make it more active, for example touching her black eye (reader goes 'ow, ow, ow') and flinching from the memory of the blow to her face from her husband? It's more of an emotional reaction, and the reader will be more with her.

    I haven't got time to move on to other paragraphs, but I hope that's constructive enough for you. You're clearly heading in the right direction and I think you're gonna end up with a great story.

    Eyan (if you can see coding next to my name, it means I haven't figured out how to do italics on this here forum!)

  5. #5
    C LW
    Guest

    Re: Please advise on opening - 3rd rewrite

    Thank you ALL for your advice it is very helpful. I will continue to work on this. Currently I have 60,000 words. I hope to be finished by the end of the year!

  6. #6
    nom de plume
    Guest

    Re: Please advise on opening - 3rd rewrite

    CLW,
    Just some advice for the next time you post an excerpt. Please double-space between paragraphs to make the excerpt easier to read.

    I'll have a quick stab at the first paragraph as well without trying to get fancy:

    Anger and bitterness filled Victoria as she saw her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Morning sunlight beamed through the bathroom window and highlighted her black eye. At least the son of a bI-Itch hadn’t made a mess of the rest of her face during their fight.

    The narrator knows that her face is a brown oval. She's likely to refer to her husband by his name when thinking about him; and probably refers to him in far less agreeable terms since she's angry and bitter. Early in the morning, the sunlight isn't yet very bright, so either say bright or beam. A black eye is always ugly, right?

  7. #7
    Mark Phillips
    Guest

    Re: Please advise on opening - 3rd rewrite

    Eyan is correct, I hate the ly words, which are adverbs. Adverbs and the passive voice are both horrible. Not to say that I haven't used my fair share of adverbs, but during my edits I destroy as many of them as I can. They don't really add anything to your writing. If you've done your work in the preceding paragraphs then your reader won't need to be told that the black eye was unsightly. As nom pointed out, we know that black eyes are unsightly.

  8. #8
    Anthony Ravenscroft
    Guest

    "hi!" from the Anal-Retentive Artist

    CLW: On this grey cloudy morning, I am cheered to see that you are taking the evaluations so well -- for this, I thank you, & I hope you're the first ray of many.

    Basically, you know what it is that you want to get across, which puts you ahead of the vast mooing bulk of hopeful authors (which despite my still-small success does include me).

    The problem comes when you try to put that into words.

    Well, since the coffee is finally beginning to takme hold, let me gas on for a moment.

    Maybe 35 years ago, I wanted to be an artist. I was fairly good with styli, but I hoped to get into acrylics. Except for one art teacher in 7th grade, I detested art classes & the sort of student that seems to infest them, so I was self-taught, encouraged by dear Mom.

    But I found, with every sketch, that I was spending more&more effort getting less&less done. Not only was the eraser coming out more, but I was starting to throw entire half-sketches in the trash. I'd become obsessed with getting onto paper the image that was in my head, & when I couldn't approach photographic detail I'd panic.

    Finally, by the time I went to college, it seemed I could only sketch little pieces when I was tired or distracted.

    A few years back, I was chatting with someone who'd just taken a class on something he called "one-stroke painting." What he showed me was a bit more than one swipe per piece, but I was stunned at how a handful of rough lines could evoke both a mood & an image.

    In like manner, you need to learn how to let a few words sketch the bare bones of what you're trying to convey, just enough to let the reader "fill in the blanks" in the general direction you're going. As Joanna Russ (amongst others) has said, "Trust your reader." This grabs the reader, pulls her/him into your story, which in turn creates a loyal audience. Your task is not to hand the reader an obsessively complete diorama, but rather a somewhat hazy hologram -- everything is there, but it takes a willing & active brain to discern the details & correctly imagine what might not be readily apparent to the casual viewer.

  9. #9
    Eyan Carrington
    Guest

    Re: "hi!" from the Anal-Retentive Artist

    That's brilliant, Anthony. I ought to cut out your reply and frame it, but I'd break my nice new monitor.

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