Short excerpt from current literary fiction book

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Ermo
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Short excerpt from current literary fiction book

Post by Ermo » May 4th, 2010, 12:22 pm

Hi all. I'm posting this short portion from my current project. Enid is an 11-year old girl who has just been caught stealing garbage from the landlord. The landlord writes for a hobby and Enid has been his discarded book pages as inspiration for her own writing. Oh, and she's curious too. The creak in the floor is mentioned earlier - something that she easily navigates on her theiving adventures. I'm just looking for some reaction to the writing style, voice, etc. This is a first draft with zero rewrites. Please feel free to say whatever - I have no problem with informed critiques. In fact, that's why I'm here! Thanks!

The urge to shake her nearly overtook Tim as he listened to her lies. He knew she intended to make his writing public in some attempt to embarrass him, likely some convuluted plot of her hippie parents. The best way to beat dirty hippies though, was not to get dirty yourself. He looked back up at her. Enid stood frozen, her body shaking, with tears still trickling from her dark brown eyes. Tim let go of Enid's shirt and she began to back away slowly. He held her stare for a moment as if the truth might appear on her forehead. Finally, she turned and ran down the hallway.

Enid struggled to open the door to her condo, peering behind her every few seconds, fully expecting Mr. Woodman to turn the corner brandishing a devilish scowl. He did not come. Inside, she ran to her bedroom and flung herself on her bed where she buried her head in her pillows. She told herself to breath slowly. She felt more than fright; she felt anger and confusion too. He did not believe her, she could tell, from his piercing eyes. What she couldn't understand was why he seemed so violated? It's just garbage.

She grabbed a stool from the corner of her room and placed it in front of her closet. She stood on the tips of her toes, removed a blanket from the top shelf, and pulled a yellow three-ring binder from the deep recesses with her fingertips. She placed it on her desk and took a seat. She flattened out the solitary piece of paper remaining in her pocket.

Cornelius McNabb lived far too long. At 99, McNabb enjoyed much of what life had to offer, including three wives (one was a swimsuit model!), a successful career in window sales, and a brief mid-life abuse of alcohol. He also sufferred from all the things life had to take away, including the death of both of his sons to Vietnam, his home due to medical bills and finally his dignity to cancer.


Enid placed the paper inside the binder and secured the rings through the holes. She kept the binder open as she pulled out a green spiral notebook from her desk drawer. The words "A Family Through Time" sat on the cover of the notebook in block letters Enid had shaded in with pencil. Her name - Enid Montgomery - sparkled in the lower right hand corner in pink glitter pen. She rubbed her finger on her name in an attempt to erase some of the glitter but stopped once she saw her name begin to smear.

She took the notebook and peered through the peep hole. The hallway narrowed to a point. Not a single menacing man. With a sigh, Enid exited the condo. She took short steps while she watched her feet, afraid to look up and discover that she was too scared to continue. The second floor hallway welcomed her with more empitness. A sudden creak in the floor startled Enid and she dropped her notebook. She scrambled to pick it up and took a couple of running steps back towards the stairs. She stopped. "Shhhhhh....," she whispered, with a half smile. Mr. Gentry's condo eminated after-dinner jazz. Enid ducked under Mr. Woodman's front window and placed the note book in front of his door. She stood up, knocked on the door hard three times, and ran as if the ground were made of fire.

daringnovelist
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Re: Short excerpt from current literary fiction book

Post by daringnovelist » May 9th, 2010, 10:37 pm

I like the story, that is the characters, their motivations and actions. (Especially her leaving the notebook - apparently as an offering?)

Your writing voice is really quite nice too, but....

This is all summary, thoughts and feelings. I would really like to see more dialog and direct experience of what is going on - physical sensations, visual detail. Especially at the beginning. I loved the bit about the glitter for this reason.

And as I said, I loved the ending. I really felt more sense of her from what she does in the last paragraph than from all the internal thoughts and explanations.

Camille

Ermo
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Re: Short excerpt from current literary fiction book

Post by Ermo » May 12th, 2010, 11:30 am

Thanks Camille for taking the time to read and comment on this excerpt. I would say that my primary weakness as a writer is that when I'm not writing dialogue, I tend to get a little too narrator-y if that makes sense. I need to work on showing some other character-revealing details. Thank you for verifying that. I'll probably end up posting more from this at some point and would love it if you took the time to comment again. Thanks!

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Kalthandrix
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Re: Short excerpt from current literary fiction book

Post by Kalthandrix » May 12th, 2010, 1:03 pm

I thought that this was a solid showing and an interesting read, but it was confusing as well. Partially because I assume there is a good bit of material before this section that establishes the relationship between the characters. It does read as narration though, but that is an easy fix with some changes to word choice and making some of it an internal monolog - such as "He did not believe her, she could tell, from his piercing eyes. What she couldn't understand was why he seemed so violated? It's just garbage." This section would make some great internal dialogue.

This might be just me, but I don't like the transition you made from your first PoV to your second (from Tim to Enid). The change would best be suited for moving from one chapter to another while switching your PoV.

I would love to see this once it has been reworked a bit!

Thanks for sharing!
I Don’t use sublIminal mEssages

lmitchell
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Re: Short excerpt from current literary fiction book

Post by lmitchell » May 14th, 2010, 12:29 pm

The urge to shake her nearly overtook Tim as he listened to her lies. He knew she intended to make his writing public in some attempt to embarrass him, likely some convuluted plot of her hippie parents. The best way to beat dirty hippies though, was not to get dirty yourself. Dialogue would be great here...He looked back up at her. Enid stood frozen, her body shaking, with tears still trickling from her dark brown eyes. Tim let go of Enid's shirt and she began to back away slowly. He held her stare for a moment as if the truth might appear on her forehead. Finally, she turned and ran down the hallway. (I would try condensing the highlighted part of this paragraph.) Ithink it would give more punch to the statement, "...best way to beat dirty hippies though, was not to get dirty yourself."--condensing it something like this:
"The best way to beat dirty hippies though, was not to get dirty yourself. Tim let go of Enid's shirt and she backed away, tears still trickling from her dark brown eyes. He stared hard as if the truth might appear on her forehead. She turned and ran down the hallway."

Enid struggled to open the door to her condo, peering behind her every few seconds. (Consider breaking this into two complete sentences) She fully expected Mr. Woodman to turn the corner brandishing a devilish scowl. He did not come. Inside, she ran to her bedroom and flung herself on her bed where she buried her head in her pillows. Try to tighten this sentence up a bit..."Once inside, she flung herself on the bed and buried her (face in the pillows)--or--buried her (head under the pillows)." She told herself to breath slowly. She felt more than fright; she felt anger and confusion too. He did not believe her, she could tell, from his piercing eyes. What she couldn't understand was why he seemed so violated?--I lose the flow when I get to the commas around she could tell, from his piercing eyes. Could you trim this to make it read smoother? Like, "she felt anger and confusion too. Why didn't he believe her? And why had he seemed so violated?-- It's just garbage. (I would either leave off "It's just garbarge" or change the tense...It was garbage.) [/color]

She grabbed a stool from the corner of her room and placed it in front of her closet. She stood on the tips of her toes, removed a blanket from the top shelf, and pulled a yellow three-ring binder from the deep recesses with her fingertips. She placed it on her desk and took a seat. She flattened out the solitary piece of paper remaining in her pocket. (change up the opening words on the sentences in this paragraph. Also try to give the paragraph more flow--it sounds too much like a play-by-play or list of events.)

Cornelius McNabb lived far too long. At 99, McNabb enjoyed much of what life had to offer, including three wives (one was a swimsuit model!), a successful career in window sales, and a brief mid-life abuse of alcohol. He also sufferred from all the things life had to take away, including the death of both of his sons to Vietnam, his home due to medical bills and finally his dignity to cancer. (whoa. I feel like I missed something. Who is Cornelius and where did he come from?)


Enid placed the paper inside the binder and secured the rings through the holes. She kept the binder open as she pulled out a green spiral notebook from her desk drawer. The words "A Family Through Time" sat on the cover of the notebook in block letters Enid had shaded in with pencil. Her name - Enid Montgomery - sparkled in the lower right hand corner in pink glitter pen. She rubbed her finger on her name in an attempt to erase some of the glitter but stopped once she saw her name begin to smear. (I don't know why, but I really like the mention of pink glitter pen. It just made me smile.)

She took the notebook and peered through the peep hole. The hallway narrowed to a point. Not a single menacing man. (this sentence fragment feels awkard here.) With a sigh, Enid exited the condo. She took short steps while she watched her feet, afraid to look up and discover that she was too scared to continue. (Perhaps, "She focused on her own choppy footsteps, afraid if she looked up she would be too scared to keep going.") The second floor hallway welcomed her with more empitness. (emptiness--but I know you know that, I'm not trying to be a smart aleck, ;)

A sudden creak in the floor startled Enid and she dropped her notebook. ("The floor creaked and Enid dropped her notebook.") She scrambled to pick it up and took a couple of running steps back towards the stairs. ("...and lunged back toward the stairs.") She stopped. "Shhhhhh....," she whispered, with a half smile. (To whom is she whispering?) Mr. Gentry's condo eminated (emanated) after-dinner jazz. Enid ducked under Mr. Woodman's front window and placed the note book (notebook) in front of his door. She stood up, knocked on the door hard three times,(I'd leave off "three times"--knock implies multiple taps) and ran as if the ground were made of fire. (consider: "as if the ground was on fire.")


You definitely have me interested in Enid and left me wondering who Mr. Woodman is--could that be "Tim" from the beginning or is it someone new...I think your most powerful sentence is: "the best way to beat dirty hippies though, was not to get dirty yourself."

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