Chasing Light in Sorbonne (Revised Introduction/Chapter 1)

Post excerpts from your works in progress and give feedback to your fellow writers.
Post Reply
User avatar
JayceeEA
Posts: 26
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:04 pm
Contact:

Chasing Light in Sorbonne (Revised Introduction/Chapter 1)

Post by JayceeEA » August 5th, 2010, 5:02 pm

Hello writers and readers. I would like to know your thoughts about this brand new introduction to my book. Two things I'd like to know at least. 1) Is it clear? 2) Is it catchy? Thanks for your comments in advance.

Chapter 1
June 1972


"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a simple step." -Lao Tzu

The room is a beauty to behold with its arched ceiling, vintage chandeliers, tall centerpieces, and several huge painted canvases spanning across the white-washed walls on each side. It is also crowded and noisy. Judging from the success of her father, Eva Gabrielle Jenkins understands that the caliber of people in this place is not to be reckoned with. They belong to a category all by themselves. Highly educated, high-class citizens, popular amongst wealthy sects, and extremely happy people. Or so it seems.

As Eva sits like the prim-and-proper young lady that she really isn't, she unravels her newest theory while looking around at the different faces in the ballroom. She constructs one sentence in her mind, "When people pretend that everything is just alright with them, it really isn't worth the trouble to be any different." It's best to sit and smile, and when a gentleman asks, "how are you doing?" give the expected response, "Very well, sir."

On the table to her right, a man whispers some words into the ears of the woman sitting by him, and they burst into a fit of loud, coarse laughter. On her left, an elderly man holds the back of a woman, patting it gently.

Eva is seated with her mother on table seventeen, one of the most distinguished numbers in the room. With fascination and deep admiration she watches her father ascend the steps of the platform, to give his 'going-away' speech which he practiced hurriedly in the car on the way down here. The announcer calls out his name, Attorney Roland Jenkins, and the crowd goes wild with applause.

He picks up the microphone and clears his throat. Before he begins to speak, he looks around at the other lawyers in the room, some gray-haired, and others without a shade of gray -- leaving no doubt as to their youthful vigor. His eyes finally rest on Eva's face. She smiles at him, hoping that her smile would make his speech stronger.

"As you already know, it is my last day in Washington, DC. Tomorrow would make it my last half-day, since we leave at noon. It's been a pleasure to work for Michael & Vern for these fifteen years. Opportunities like this are like a hot summer day in the North Pole. Impossible. I guess I just got lucky, thanks to the company."

The crowd cheers loudly, and he waits for them to calm down. Eva watches him, with the deep affection of a daughter for her father. He continues, "As I move to Europe, I promise to continue my allegiance, no matter what, even though I go away to a people of a wild and fiery tongue. So let's dance, shall we? Let's dance to this new opportunity."

The ballroom music comes on and people begin to troop to the dance floor. Eva glances at her mother and says, "good speech." Her mother nods her head in agreement. Suddenly, she feels a slight tap on her shoulder and turns around to find her father stretching his right hand towards her.

"May I have this dance, Eva?" She wants to shake her head because she's not in the mood to dance, but one look into his eyes tells her he really wants to, so she agrees. At thirteen years of age, she's probably the youngest in the room, but possibly also the best ballroom dancer. She holds his hands and waltzes to the music. She tries not to think of all the send-off parties she had attended in the past, all thirteen of them, for every move she'd made in her lifetime. All because of him.

GeeGee55
Posts: 173
Joined: February 19th, 2010, 11:01 pm
Contact:

Re: Chasing Light in Sorbonne (Revised Introduction/Chapter 1)

Post by GeeGee55 » August 5th, 2010, 9:39 pm

I really like the title. It might just be my personal preference, but I think it would be better not to start with a description of the room.
JayceeEA wrote:Hello writers and readers. I would like to know your thoughts about this brand new introduction to my book. Two things I'd like to know at least. 1) Is it clear? 2) Is it catchy? Thanks for your comments in advance.

Chapter 1
June 1972


"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a simple step." -Lao Tzu

Judging from the success of her father, Eva Gabrielle Jenkins understands that the caliber of people in this place is not to be reckoned with. How do you reckon with a caliber? They belong to a category all by themselves.- I think this sentence is not constructed properly, category is singular, maybe it should be they belong to a category all to itself? it's kind of tricky Highly educated, high-class citizens, popular amongst wealthy sects, and extremely happy people. Or so it seems.

Just my opinion, this is a better place to start As Eva sits like the prim-and-proper young lady that she really isn't, she unravels her newest theory while looking around at the different faces in the ballroom. She constructs one sentence in her mind, "When people pretend that everything is just alright with them, it really isn't worth the trouble to be any different." It's best to sit and smile, and when a gentleman asks, "how are you doing?" give the expected response, "Very well, sir."

The room is a beauty to behold with its arched ceiling, vintage chandeliers, tall centerpieces, and several huge painted canvases spanning across don't know if you need to say across with spanning the white-washed walls on each side. It is also crowded and noisy. On the table to her right, a man whispers some words into the ears of the woman sitting by him, and they burst into a fit of loud, coarse laughter. On her left, an elderly man holds the back of a woman, patting it gently.

Eva is seated with her mother on on or at the table? table seventeen, one of the most distinguished numbers in the room. this is interesting, that a number can be distinguished With fascination and deep admiration she watches her father ascend the steps of the platform, to give his 'going-away' speech which he practiced hurriedly - don't need this adverb IMO in the car on the way down here. The announcer calls out his name, Attorney Roland Jenkins, and the crowd goes wild with applause.

He picks up the microphone and clears his throat. Before he begins to speak, he looks around at the other lawyers in the room, some gray-haired, and others without a shade of gray -- leaving no doubt as to their youthful vigor. His eyes finally rest on Eva's face. She smiles at him, hoping that her smile would will make his speech stronger.

"As you already know, it is my last day in Washington, DC. Tomorrow would make it my last half-day, since we leave at noon. It's been a pleasure to work for Michael & Vern for these fifteen years. Opportunities like this are like a hot summer day in the North Pole. Impossible. I guess I just got lucky, thanks to the company."

The crowd cheers loudly, and he waits for them to calm down. Eva watches him, with the deep affection of a daughter for her father.- I don't know about this, not all daughters have affection for their fathers He continues, "As I move to Europe, I promise to continue my allegiance, no matter what, even though I go away to a people of a wild and fiery tongue. like this turn of phrase So let's dance, shall we? Let's dance to this new opportunity."

The ballroom music comes on - isn't there a live orchestra? and people begin to troop to the dance floor. Eva glances at her mother and says, "good speech." Her mother nods her head in agreement. Suddenly, she feels a slight tap on her shoulder and turns around to find her father stretching his right hand towards her.

"May I have this dance, Eva?" She wants to shake her head because she's not in the mood to dance, but one look into his eyes tells her he really wants to, so she agrees. At thirteen years of age, she's probably the youngest in the room, but possibly also the best ballroom dancer. She holds his hands and waltzes to the music. She tries not to think of all the send-off parties she had attended in the past, all thirteen of them, for every move she'd made in her lifetime. All because of him.
I think it would be more clear and catchy with the changes I've suggested, but these are just my opinions. Overall, I think you have a very good beginning.

User avatar
JayceeEA
Posts: 26
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:04 pm
Contact:

Re: Chasing Light in Sorbonne (Revised Introduction/Chapter 1)

Post by JayceeEA » August 6th, 2010, 9:55 am

GeeGee55 wrote:I really like the title. It might just be my personal preference, but I think it would be better not to start with a description of the room.

I think it would be more clear and catchy with the changes I've suggested, but these are just my opinions. Overall, I think you have a very good beginning.
Thank you so much for your thorough critique. I really appreciate this. In fact, I'm excited because I can work on the changes with a different perspective now.

User avatar
belindasmith
Posts: 6
Joined: July 13th, 2010, 2:51 am
Contact:

Re: Chasing Light in Sorbonne (Revised Introduction/Chapter 1)

Post by belindasmith » August 18th, 2010, 6:22 am

Hi Jaycee Good start and you hook the reader's interest with the last line that suggests that not everything is rosy in this father/ daughter relationship. I agree with GeeGee about not starting with the description of the room. If you want to describe the room you could intersperse this with a description of the audience, the heavy gold picture frames could reflect the glittering pomp of the audience. But that’s just my thought. The use of the terms ‘wealthy sect’, “on table seventeen, one of the most distinguished numbers in the room.” and “away to a people of a wild and fiery tongue” Is intriguing and suggests that this is not our ordinary world but perhaps there is magic or a belief system different from our own.

“and the crowd goes wild with applause” is just a little bit cliché and lets your very good writing down. Highly educated wealthy people are usually just a little bit more reserved (unless it’s Warren Buffet taking the stage) and so it comes across, to me, as false.

Otherwise the freshness of your style is captivating and keeps the reader interested. Good work

User avatar
airball
Posts: 58
Joined: August 14th, 2010, 7:38 pm
Contact:

Re: Chasing Light in Sorbonne (Revised Introduction/Chapter 1)

Post by airball » August 19th, 2010, 1:59 pm

Hi Jaycee - I'm going to try to tighten things up a bit. For the record, I don't mind opening with the room if you do it right.
JayceeEA wrote:Hello writers and readers. I would like to know your thoughts about this brand new introduction to my book. Two things I'd like to know at least. 1) Is it clear? 2) Is it catchy? Thanks for your comments in advance.

Chapter 1
June 1972


"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a simple step." -Lao Tzu

The room is a beauty to behold with its arched ceiling, vintage chandeliers, tall centerpieces I don't know what this is. On tables as at a wedding?, and several huge painted canvases spanning acrossthe white-washed walls on each side each side of what?. If you're going to lead with the room, and I don't mind if you do, don't stop yet. What is the furniture like. Really establish its grandeur and then the contrast with the next paragraph will jump out.

It is also crowded and noisy. Judging from the success of her father, Eva Gabrielle Jenkins understands that the caliber of people in this place is not to be reckoned withI'm not sure what you're saying here. What does "reckon" mean here? Caliber?. They belong to a category all by themselves. Highly educated, high-class citizens, popular amongst wealthy sectswrong word, and extremely happy people. Or so it seems. Clarify this. From the first sentence it sounds as if the people will provide a contrast with the room, but now I'm not so sure. Think about the relationship between the people and the space, and use it to set up the drama of the scene.

As Eva sits like the prim-and-proper young lady that she really isn't, she unravels her newest theory about what? Give us a hint! while looking aroundat the different faces in the ballroom. She constructs one sentence in her mind Hmm. Sounds a bit mechanical. Is she constructing a sentence or thinking a thought?, "When people pretend that everything is just alright with them, it really isn't worth the trouble to be any different." I'm not clear as to what this means. "Just alright" could mean "okay" or "great!" Who is the subject of the second half of the sentence.It's best to sit and smile, and when a gentleman why gentleman as opposed to man? asks, "How are you doing?" give the expected response, "Very well, sir." I like Eve. Nicely done.

On the table to her right, a man whisperssome words into the ears of the woman sitting by him, and they burst into a fit of loud, coarse laughter. On her left, an elderly man caresses the back of a woman, patting it gently.Develop this. You've got two couples doing two very different things, but it's not clear what the reader is supposed to make of them. How are they affecting Eva's thinking? The first couple seems to provide a contrast with the elegance of the room, but I don't know what the second one is doing. Is his caress lewd? Or loving?

Eva is seated - check the formulation in the previous paragraph. "is seated" or "sits"? with her mother on at, I hope, though if they're on the table, that would certainly change things table seventeen, one of the most distinguished numbers in the room Is the number distinguished or the table? Or the table's location?. With fascination and deep admiration she watches her father ascend the steps of the platform, to give his 'going-away' speech which he practiced hurriedly Makes him sound disorganized. If he's organized (as he seems), has he been working on it for weeks? Just asking.in the car on the way down here. The announcer calls out his name, AttorneyRoland Jenkins, and the crowd goes wild with applause. Chronology is unclear. Is he headed for the platform before his name is announced? Also, the lawyers aren't going to go wild. They might clap loudly or for a long time or even stand up.

He picks up the microphone Not at this kind of function. He'd be standing at a podium.and clears his throat. Before he begins to speak, he looks around at the other lawyers in the room, some gray-haired, and others without a shade of gray Good contrast, clumsily executed with "gray" repeated. Maybe "gray and balding" versus "full heads of hair -- leaving no doubt as to their youthful vigor.Implies not going gray is a choice. His eyes finally rest on Eva's face. She smiles at him, hoping that her smile would make his speech stronger.Implies it's weak.

"As you already know, it is my last day in Washington, DC. Tomorrow would make it my last half-day, since we leave at noon.It's been a pleasure to work for Michael & Vern for these fifteen years. Opportunities like this are like a hot summer day in the North Pole. Impossible. I guess I just got lucky, thanks to the company."

The crowd cheers loudly, and he waits for them to calm down. Again, they're lawyers. Eva watches him, with the deep affection of a daughter for her father. He continues, "As I move to Europe, I promise to continue my allegiance, no matter what, even though I go away to a people of a wild and fiery tongue. What? Allegiance to what? Who are these people of a wild and fiery tongue? Is this his entire speech? Kind of a letdown after fifteen years service to...what?So let's dance, shall we? Let's dance to this new opportunity." This sort of occasion would probably not include dancing.

The ballroom music comes on and people begin to troop to the dance floor. Eva glances at her mother and says, "good speech." See above. It wasn't much of a speech. You don't have to write it, but you should summarize it so we know who this guy is. Right now all we know is that he gave a six sentence speech that he didn't practice until the drive over. Is he this incompetent?Her mother nods her head in agreement. Suddenly, she feels a slighttap on her shoulder and turns around to find her father stretching his right hand towards her. A bit awkward here. Maybe have him standing behind her?

"May I have this dance, Eva?" She wants to shake her head because she's not in the mood to dance, but one look into his eyes tells her he really wants to, so she agrees. At thirteen years of age Whoa. I had her in her twenties. It also makes her lack of primness a bit creepy. If that's where you're going, cool. But if not, your reader is now pretty confused. , she's probably the youngest in the room, but possibly also the best ballroom dancer. She holds his hands and waltzes to the music. She tries not to think of all the send-off parties she had attended in the past, all thirteen of them, for every move she'd made in her lifetime. All because of him. If he's been with the firm for fifteen years, why have they moved thirteen times? This would be pretty unusual.


There's some really good stuff here, but I don't think you do it justice. Picture the scene in your head in all its detail, and then use the detail to set up your story's drama. Tell us more about the room. Tell us more about the crowd. If there's a contrast to be made between the room and its occupants, make it explicit. Since I don't know how to feel about the audience, I don't know how to feel about the scene.

You might also do more with the characters in terms of development and clarity. As noted, Eva's dad appears to be a powerful and successful lawyer. Men like him don't write speeches like that. What do we know about Eva's mom? She seems important. And let the reader know more about Eva at the outset. At the beginning I thought she was a strong-willed young woman, maybe just out of college, and that's not at all what you have in mind.

I like this room and the people in it - tell me more!

airball
Sam Thomas
Author of The Midwife's Story: A Mystery due out from St. Martin's Press in 2013
Website: http://www.samthomasbooks.com
Team Blog= http://bloodygoodread.blogspot.com

User avatar
JayceeEA
Posts: 26
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:04 pm
Contact:

Re: Chasing Light in Sorbonne (Revised Introduction/Chapter 1)

Post by JayceeEA » August 19th, 2010, 4:00 pm

Thanks Belinda and Airball. I am currently working on tightening these few paragraphs. I am really grateful for your intense corrections, especially for Airball's. I will be posting the newer version here, hopefully in a few days.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests