HomeWritersLiterary AgentsEditorsPublishersResourcesDiscussion
Forum Login | Join the discussion
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 7 1 2 3 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 64
  1. #1
    Amy Lou
    Guest

    Fat Cat Syndrome - Critique

    This is my opening scene for a novel I've written about the Fat Cat preachers in churches. I was hoping for a critique on this, to see if it's interesting, if it pulls you in. Thanks in advance!
    Amy



    I was called into his office on my first day of school, afraid that I'd done something to embarrass my new family.

    "Madeline, come in. Have a seat."

    "Yes sir." How the hell they made a piano into a desk, I will never understand.

    "Are you enjoying your first day of school?" Mr. Smith inquired. His fingers mingled with one another. He had lady hands.

    "Yes, it's really nice here."

    "Good. Are you making friends with some of the other kids?"

    Did he think I was a freak, incapable of making friend? I was a survivor and could befriend a prostitute if I thought it would help me.

    "Yes sir, I am."

    "That's nice to hear. What classes have you had so far?"

    "Homeroom, Algerbra and History." I repeated my morning and he scribbled it down in a file.

    "Good. Do you feel like you're catching on, the work isn't too difficult?"

    "No sir."

    "That's good. Madeline, if you ever need anything, you know you can always come to me. We're family now. You understand that don't you?"

    "Yes, I do."

    "You look beautiful today. Did Julia get you that dress?" His eyes were greedy as they gazed at me from across the piano desk. "Madeline, did Julia get you the dress?"

    "Yes sir." I glanced down at cabbage roses in full bloom drowning in pleats.

    "Well, it looks real nice. I wish you would call me Philip, and when you're comfortable I hope you'll call me Dad."

    "Sure."

    Madeline is my name, and foster homes are my game. The Smith's brought me home two weeks ago, and so far I hate it here. They're into lots of religious stuff, because Mr. Smith, Pastor Smith, Pastor Philip, whatever it was they called him, was some important honcho at the church. He was what these people called their pastor. Sounds like pasture to me, which reminds me of ****, and these people were full of that. All I had to do was keep my dirty mouth shut, abide by their strange religious rules, and in two years I would fly away like we sang in church last Sunday. "I'll fly away O glory, I'll fly away."

    "This is what I've picked out for you to wear." Mrs. Smith said, as she rescued the the rose patterned tent from my closet the morning of the meet and greet. "I hope it fits, you're so tiny." It resembled a straight jacket more than a dress, but whatever.

    "Yes mam."

    "Your manners are impecable for a young lady from ----- well you know, the system." She beamed with delight at her new daughter.

    This is what she kept calling it ,"the system.", as if it were a dreaded disease. I suppose it was. After all, I'd contracted it at birth and haven't found a cure for it yet. Would they be my cure?

    "Now," She continued, as she scurried around the room. My straight jacket lay across the bed. "I expect you to use these same wonderful manners at the reception today. Everyone's anxious to see the newest addition to our family."

    "Yes mam." I knew the game, I had played it all of my life. Use your manners, look pretty and don't cause trouble.

    "Excellent, now come along and help me with Elijha."

    I followed behind her, realizing that I was to become their nanny. Wow, I was learning a lot.

    If I had to guess, Mrs smith was in her late twenties, perhaps Pastor Smith was slightly older, but not much. He was handsome in a boyish way. When he dressed up on Sunday morning's, the two that I'd witnessed, he looked like a little boy in his father's clothes, not a man. How did these people take him seriously? Mrs. Smith, well she was as plain as they come. Thin as a string bean, and no curves to offer anyone, not her child, not even her husband. Her style was dated and her hair was thin with bangs sprayed three inches high. I would kill her in her sleep if she tried to change my hair.

    "God wants you women at home, taking care of your family." Mr. Smith, Pastor Smith, Pastor Philip, or Dad preached from the pulpit the morning of the reception held in my honor. I had yet to decide on a name to call him. "He doesn't want you climbing telephone poles, fixing telephone lines. No!" I jumped in my seat. "He wants you home putting cake mix together, taking care of those babies the Lord has blessed you with."

    The congregation went wild with amen’s and hallelujahs. Was this the same quiet man I had eaten dinner with for the past two weeks? Somehow it was.

    "You're to be submissive to your husband, lift him up when he needs it, wash his clothes when they need cleaning, and have his meals ready when he's hungry." So this is why Mrs. Smith scurries around the kitchen at 4:00pm? More Amen's echoed throughout the sanctuary. I couldn't believe my ears. Is this what my birth mother had in mind when she gave me away?

    "Honor your husbands, for they are the head of the household. They are the leader. The one you turn to for guidance." He continued.

    Did these people ever grow weary saying amen? Just as I am was sung during this thing called an invitation. I was surprised to see people making their way to the front, weeping and praying because they had been touched by his words. Was his message really that moving? It didn't move me.


    We exited church early, and found the fellowship hall. I felt sorry for those poor souls left praying at the alter. They might miss out on the sweet potatoes smothered in marshmallows.



  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    688

    Re: Fat Cat Syndrome - Critique

    What is it about agnosticism that spreads like a cancerous disease? Amy, does it get more cliche'd than the lecherous old man in the pulpit with a lackluster wife, preaching submission at his congregation while licentiously calculates the moment of his conquest.. I'd be shocked if he was actually concerned for the girl and changed her opinion of pastors. Oh no, that doesn't happen, every pastor needs must be a pervert. God, that's about as original as your self absorbed MC, who's lost in her own world, because she's the soul inhabitant of her universe.

    If I had to guess, Mrs smith was in her late twenties – Mrs. smith needs a period.

    Mr. Smith, Pastor Smith, Pastor Philip, or Dad – one of those needs to go.

    "Your manners are impecable for a young lady from ----- well you know, the system." She beamed with delight at her new daughter. -- it's two dashes, not four and impeccable is spelled wrong.

    More Amen's echoed throughout the sanctuary. -- Amens don't need to be capitalized or have that apostrophe. It's not a possessive, it's plural.

    Is this what my [s]birth[/s] mother had in mind when she gave me away? -- She's either her mother or not, birth isn't required there.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    5

    Re: Fat Cat Syndrome - Critique

    I tend to agree with Pendragin here; it's a bit predictable that a Christian is a pervert/predator of some kind. Why not try that with a Rabbi? Now that would be original, and brave. As it is, you're taking aim, (to paraphrase P.J O'Rouke) at a dairy cow with a high powered rifle. Everyone smears Christians. It's old. Let's smear someone else and get creative, folks! Only joking.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    688

    Re: Fat Cat Syndrome - Critique

    Christian doesn't, of necessity, equal pervert;however, you can see this setup coming from a mile off. It's cliche.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    5

    Re: Fat Cat Syndrome - Critique

    "Christian doesn't, of necessity, equal pervert..."

    Of course. I meant in fiction. You never see a Christian in fiction, a Christian who adheres to and upholds Christian values etc,,who's not in some way twisted. Or am I wrong? Seems it's just part of the cultural scenery we've been surrounded by since, oh, I suppose the 1960s. It's the norm, media-wise, to portray Christianity as a bad thing. That's what I (PJ) meant by high-powered rifles and dairy cows.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    688

    Re: Fat Cat Syndrome - Critique

    No, it's cool Steve. I get what you're saying.

  7. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    5

    Re: Fat Cat Syndrome - Critique

    As to the piece, well, I'm not sure about extended dialogue as an opening for written fiction. Is there any way to avoid at least feeding the reader with SOME prose sentences, building up SOME context before expecting the reader to 'believe' dialogue? Just a guess, but I feel that an opening sentence or two giving a background, context or character description helps us to swallow dialogue. I may be totally wrong; I hardly read anything written after 1940.

  8. #8
    Amy Lou
    Guest

    Re: Fat Cat Syndrome - Critique

    Wow, thanks guys for this. I really appreciate you looking it over. While I know it may seem like I'm setting it up for him to be a pervert, that's her perception at 16 years old, and she would be self absorbed. Author, you make some pretty big assumptions about what you think I'm trying to say about Christianity based on this small piece. That being said, this peace still may stink and be riddled with cliches in you opinion. I did go to a Christian school like this with men like this, but he may turn out to be a good guy, she may turn out to be a christian, one doesn't know based on what I've written above. But I see your points! Thanks.
    Amy

  9. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    5

    Re: Fat Cat Syndrome - Critique

    We live in stinky, cliche-ridden times, Amy; hard to produce anything else, I'd say.

    Surely the first thing anyone who wants to write fictional prose needs to do is throw away their televisions. Without them, our own inner voices might get a chance to emerge, timidly at first, from behind the chairs where they've been hidden since TV began dominating our lives. And anyway, once the system crashes and there's no longer any electricity, we'll need to find those voices again. So why not preempt the coming societal meltdown, start growing vegetables and using pen-and-paper? If we start now, we'll have a headstart

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    689

    Re: Fat Cat Syndrome - Critique

    Author and Wasserman---

    Holy jumpin' Jesus!

    Cur

Posting Permissions

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