HomeWritersLiterary AgentsEditorsPublishersResourcesDiscussion
Forum Login | Join the discussion
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Story beginning

  1. #1
    Maisie Masson
    Guest

    Story beginning

    I posted a piece before called BIRDS OF A FEATHER which I have now rewritten as a 5000 word short story in the 3rd person. I have a lot of material about the time I spent overseas as an expat wife. How does this rate as an opening and does the British dialogue work?

    Thanks

    Maisie


    The palm frond fell so close to Isabel’s bed that she felt the disturbed air along her sticky body. She flinched at the crash, dislodging the novel propped against her knees. The book tumbled onto a drink can, causing brown liquid to fizz and pool on the hot tiles.

    “Bloody hell! That was a close one!”

    Isabel pulled at her sarong and turned to see a man in checked shorts approaching her sun lounger.

    “Lucky it didn’t knock you out. The gardeners are supposed to check these trees every day but I suppose it was rather stormy last night. Hi, I’m Tom. You must be the new guy’s wife. When did you get here? Mind if I take this bed?”

    “Please do. Last night, late. Jim, my husband, had a meeting in Jakarta yesterday. A driver took us down. I’m Isabel Taylor, Tom. Are you with X-Oil too?” The woman felt again for her new sarong and made sure it was covering as much of her pale body as possible. “That branch really gave me a fright, falling like that. I’ll have to be careful where I put my sun bed in future.”

    “You will be fine today. The fronds droop a bit before they fall. You’ll soon get used to checking the trees. Don’t you worry; after a few days in this hole you’ll know every nook and cranny of the hotel….and will have met all the inhabitants, ants included.”

    As they watched the ants drawn to the remains of the Coke, Isabel remembered her husband’s instructions last night. “Watch what you say all the time. The wives will tell their husbands everything that goes on so do not ever talk about work. Never criticise the company even if other people are. Just smile and keep your mouth shut and your ears open. I’ll settle in much more quickly if you find out who’s who and what’s what. I need this job, remember.”

    “I’m a lowly contractor working for X-Oil. Is Jim staff?” The man spread out a blue towel on the back of his sun bed and carefully folded another to place across the lower area. He fetched a small plastic table to hold his sun cream and a car magazine. His movements were relaxed, his skin deeply tanned.

    “Yes, he’s just started with the company. Oh, that’s kind of you!”

    Tom positioned a second table for Isabel. “I’ll go and find a waiter. Coke all right, or something else? Beer?”

    Isabel watched as the tall Englishman strode round the pool to the dining room entrance. He seemed friendly; she looked forward to a long chat. She had so many questions to ask and this was the first Western person she had seen since her husband left for breakfast at five fifteen. I wonder if he’s married. Maybe his wife would show me around….if she is in Indonesia, of course. Isabel knew from the briefing notes that most of the company employees were on unaccompanied postings or were single men, and tourists didn’t come to Birabon very often.

    The reality of living in Java had hit home during their four-day stay in Jakarta. Jim had become violently ill with a stomach bug soon after their thirteen-hour flight from London Heathrow. The hotel staff hadn’t managed to contact their usual doctor: instead, they had given Isabel directions to a pharmacy. The walk only took a few minutes but the humid evening air was thick with exhaust fumes from barely moving traffic. Horns blared, unfamiliar music blasted from car windows. The young woman stepped along the cracked pavement as dirty air laden with the foul smell of sewage swirled around her.

    Isabel passed a long row of shop windows filled with extravagantly decorated shoes placed jewel-like on individual stands. The coloured sequins and glass pieces adorning the shoes sparkled under strong spotlights. They made a silent, disciplined contrast to the chaos of the street. Long strands of hair stuck to Isabel’s damp cheeks as she stumbled, punch drunk, into the pharmacy.

    That had been a tough welcome to Jakarta but she had managed to describe Jim’s symptoms to a helpful Chinese pharmacist. Next morning her husband felt well enough to begin his round of meetings; Isabel went back along Shoe Street where she bought three pairs of glitzy sandals as retail therapy.



  2. #2
    larry moses
    Guest

    Re: Story beginning

    The palm frond fell so close to Isabel’s bed that she felt the disturbed air along her sticky body. She flinched at the crash, dislodging the novel propped against her knees. The book tumbled onto a drink can, causing brown liquid to fizz and pool on the hot tiles. (on her sweaty body?)

    Isabel pulled at her sarong and turned to see a man in checked shorts approaching her sun lounger.(checkered shorts approaching her)

    Please do. Last night, late. (late last night) Jim, my husband, had a meeting in Jakarta yesterday. A driver took us down. I’m Isabel Taylor, Tom. Are you with X-Oil too?” The woman (adjusted her new sarong)felt again for her new sarong and made sure it was covering as much of her pale body as possible. “That branch really gave me a fright, falling like that. I’ll have to be careful where I put my sun bed(sun-bed) in future.”

    That's just a few. You'll get more feedback from the pros, Maisie. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Maisie Masson
    Guest

    Re: Story beginning

    Thanks, Larry

    I think I prefer 'sunbed' with no hyphen

    'Sweaty' sounds a bit masculine to me. I associate 'sticky' with humidity.

    Oxford English Dictionary says 'checked' is British. I can go with the rest though.

    I appreciate your comments.

    Regards

    Maisie

  4. #4
    jayce
    Guest

    Re: Story beginning

    This does not engage me. Your main character lays about in her sun bed, either chatting about palm fronds and cokes, or reeling off back-story about life in Jakarta. Where is the story, what is the conflict? In a short story you must quickly establish your main character and whatever personal conflict she is experiencing or is about to experience. Without that, you have no tension, and without tension you will soon have no reader.

    The narrative style is so-so. You obviously possess an excellent command of the mechanics, but overall it lacks imagery and punch, tending toward over-writing--but that may well the be result of having no story to propel the narrative. You have over 700 words here, about three manuscript pages, and I haven't a clue as to what this story is about.

    Study the craft. Keep working at it.

  5. #5
    Joe Zeff
    Guest

    Re: Story beginning

    Palm fronds are not exactly heavy or dense enough to fall with a crash, and I find it hard to believe that one could knock you out, even if its base landed on your head. Even a big one has a fairly low terminal velocity, because it catches the air as it falls. Now, if that had been a coconut, I'd have had not problems.

  6. #6
    Maisie Masson
    Guest

    Re: Story beginning

    Joe

    Yes, sorry, I should have said "spathe". They did fall on the poolside from date palms and they were hard, brown and heavy enough to give one hell of a fright.

    spathe
    a large bract, often coloured, that surrounds the inflorescence of aroid plants and palms
    Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

    Maisie

  7. #7
    Maisie Masson
    Guest

    Re: Story beginning

    Yes, I am studying and I will keep working. I shall give your comments more thought.

    Thanks

    Maisie

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts