Forgive me 2nd try Need criticism on a Reno Wedding

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SSB
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Forgive me 2nd try Need criticism on a Reno Wedding

Post by SSB » August 30th, 2010, 4:39 pm

Sorry for the post yesterday, I copied the wrong draft and posted the unedited copy, so I deleted it. I hope I did not wound too many eyes. (I couldn't bear to look at the count.) I have enough trouble getting it right after the seventh try. Anyway...

My novel takes place in 1976. It is about a 17 yr old runaway who fled New Jersey with her 20 yr old boyfriend. In this excerpt, they attempt to get married in Reno.


We drove for an hour more before Robert parked in front of a white brick building. The red OPEN sign in the window caught my eye. The place looked like a church, well, sort of. A small steeple with a white cross, stood right above a neon sign flashing WEDDINGS. To the right of the door was a stained glass window with the word LOVE etched between two pink hearts; black silhouette heads of a man and woman facing each other, decorated the next two adjoining windows.

“Come on. Let’s do it!” Robert said. He looked so cute with his usual infectious grin, I could have carried him over the threshold, but I restrained myself. Today was my smiley face day. Once we were married, there would be no way anyone could tear us apart. We would belong to each other forever. My heart thumped as we walked hand and hand toward the chapel of love.

Robert propped the storm door open for me. “Brides first.” He said bowing slightly and grandly gesturing with his arm for me to move forward.

I happily crossed the threshold, taking my first step toward becoming a married woman, only to stumble onto an ox-blood carpet covering every inch of visible floor space. My eyes popped. It was the gaudiest place I’d ever seen. I felt queazy staring at the clashing Pepto-Bismol colored hearts spattered all over the walls and dangling from the ceiling. But, there was more. Just when I thought the place couldn’t be tackier, I eyed a humongous fake gold heart encapsulating a white podium, where I presumed the vows of matrimony took place.

No sooner, had the door rattled shut behind us, than a short fat man in a black appeared. “Hello, how may I help you?” He asked clearing his throat.

He didn’t look like a minister at all to me. His fat lips puckered out as if they were squeezed out of position by his chubby cheeks and he had a funniest looking comb over I’d ever seen. I glanced down at the floor, then at his nose, and then over at the wall, to curb the urge to stare directly at his head and giggle. One big gust of wind and he’d have hair down below his shoulder, at least on one side. By the shocked expression on his face, I was sure we didn’t look like his regular clients either. Robert’s uneven hair had grown well below his shoulders and his multi-patched faded jeans looked ragged. I was in dirty green down jacket and carpenter pants. We looked oddly out of place in this pristine pink house of horrors. The fat man’s phony smile didn’t fool me, I could see the fear in his eyes. I figured he thought we were going to rob the joint.

“We want to get married.” Robert said grinning from ear to ear, breaking the momentary silence that lingered in the air like a foul odor.

The fat man’s let out a guarded sigh, his stance relaxed somewhat, as he dabbed at his forehead with a white handkerchief. “Well son, you are in the right place.” He said.

“How much does it cost?” Robert asked.

“We have different packages. It all depends what you want.” He offered Robert a brochure.

“We just want the piece of paper, nothing special.”

“Our most economical package, which includes the ceremony, complementary music and the marriage certificate runs only twenty-five dollars.”

Robert’s jaw dropped open. “Twenty-five buck! That’s expensive.”

“Well, son it is for life. We wouldn’t want you to make a hasty decision.”

“I guess that makes sense.” Robert said shaking his head. I could see he was still trying to swallow the cost of the whole thing.

Seated at a nearby desk sat a woman with tortoise-shell glasses, an up-do, and an air of superiority. She eyed us up and down cautiously.

“Come on in and have a seat. Miss Swan will get your paperwork ready for you.” The fat man said, leading us to two chairs directly in front of the woman.

Miss Swan gave us a big fake smile and a contract. “Fill out these forms, and in the meantime, I will need to see your driver’s license.”

“Um. I don’t drive.” I said reflexively.

Do you have birth certificate or some other form of identification?”

I pulled my birth certificate out of my blue bag. Thankfully, I had been smart enough to pack it when I left.

The woman shook her head and frowned. “I’m sorry. We cannot marry you. You're not old enough.”

I stared at the woman baffled. “I thought everyone could get married in Nevada.”

“Not until you are eighteen. You have to have your parent's permission.” She informed us in firm tone.

“That’s the problem. Our parents don’t want us to get married. Can’t you help us?” Robert pled.

“Sorry, the law requires you to be eighteen to marry without parental consent. Have you tried Tennessee?” She added with a hint of sarcasm. I was unnerved by the suspicious look on her face. I was afraid she might call the cops.

“Let’s go Robert. I will ask my parents tonight.” I said, covering our tracks

Robert looked at me funny for a moment, stiffened, and shifted his eyes toward the door signaling me he was on to my ruse.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t help you.” The fat man called after us as we fled the pink house of horrors.

Robert and I beat it to the car and not a minute too soon as far as I was concerned. I didn’t want to get married by a fat guy with a bad comb-over in that ridiculous pink nightmare of a place anyway.

Robert draped his arm over my shoulder. “I’m sorry things didn’t work out, I tried.” He said regretfully. His eyes clouded over and I knew her meant it.

“Don’t worry about it.” I snorted. “That place was so gaudy, I was sure Elvis Presley was gonna come through the door in a white sequined jumpsuit to marry us himself.”

Robert let out a loud belly laugh. “Mary, what an imagination you have.” He said, shaking his head. “Elvis. Ha! That's a good one.”
Last edited by SSB on August 31st, 2010, 1:32 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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Diamonte
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Re: Forgive me 2nd try Need criticism on a Reno Wedding

Post by Diamonte » August 30th, 2010, 10:53 pm

We drove for an hour or so more before Robert parked in front of a white brick building. The red OPEN sign in the window caught my eye. The place looked like a church, well a fax-paux church. I think there should be a comma after well. But I just don't like the whole phrase. Faux-pas church sounds like a phrase that may be interesting, but it lacks meaning.Above the eave of the roof where a neon sign flashed WEDDINGS, stood a small steeple with a white cross. The flow of this sentence feels off. You talk about above the eave, and then focus on the sign on the eave, then switch back to what's supposed to be the main focus, the small steeple. I'd rewrite it so the sentence flows in the way your eyes would follow the roof. To the right of the door was a stained glass window with the word LOVE etched between two pink hearts. Black silhouette heads of a man and woman facing each other decorated the adjoining windows.

“Come on. Let’s go get married!” I'm not familiar with the character yet, but when I hear this line in my head, it comes out in a redneck voice. I can barely resist adding a "YEEHAW!" to the end of it. It would sound a little more natural if a woman said it. But for a man - well, I'd phrase it differently. Robert said taking me by the hand. He looked so cute with his usual infectious grin, I could have carried him over the threshold, but I restrained myself. The phrasing here just feels off. Today was my smiley face day. Once we were married, there would be no way anyone could tear us apart. We would belong to each other forever. This is sappy. I can't stomach sappiness unless I care about the characters and have already formed an emotional connection to them. But at the same time, I can see a 17 year old saying this. My heart thumped in anticipation as we walked hand in hand toward the chapel of love.

Robert propped the storm door open for me. “Brides first.” He said bowing slightly and grandly gesturing with his arm for me to move forward.

I happily crossed the threshold, taking my first step toward becoming a married woman, only to stumble onto an ox-blood carpet covering every inch of visible floor space. My eyes popped. It was the gaudiest place I’d ever seen. I almost became nauseous staring at the clashing Pepto-Bismol colored hearts spattered all over the walls and dangling from the ceiling. But, there was more. Just when I thought the place couldn’t be tackier, I eyed a humongous fake gold heart encapsulating a white podium, where I presumed the vows of matrimony took place.

No sooner had the door rattled shut behind us and a short fat man in a black appeared. “Hello, how may I help you?” He asked, clearing his throat.

He didn’t look like a minister at all to me. His fat lips puckered out as if they were squeezed out of position by his chubby cheeks and he had the stupidest looking comb over I’d ever seen. I like that the narrator is finally showing some of her own opinions and spunk, but her attitude isn't very appealing to me. I glanced down at the floor, then at his nose, and then over at the wall, to curb the urge to stare directly at his head. One big gust of wind and he’d have hair down below his shoulder, at least on one side. By the shocked expression on his face, I was sure we didn’t look like the kind of clients he expected either. Robert’s uneven hair had grown well below his shoulders and his multi-patched faded jeans looked ragged. I was in dirty green down jacket and carpenter pants. We looked oddly out of place in this pristine pink house of horrors. The fat man’s phony smile didn’t fool me, I could see the fear in his eyes. I figured he thought we were going to rob the joint. We stared at him and he stared back at us, perplexed.

“We want to get married.” Robert said, grinning from ear to ear, breaking the silence that lingered in the air like a foul odor.

The fat man let out a guarded sigh, his stance relaxed somewhat, as he dabbed at his forehead with a white handkerchief. “Well, son, you are in the right place.” He said.

“How much does it cost?” Robert asked.

“We have different packages. It all depends what you want.” The man said, offering Robert a brochure.

“We just want the piece of paper, nothing special.”

“Our most economical package, which includes the ceremony, complementary music and the marriage certificate runs only twenty-five dollars.”

Robert’s jaw dropped open. “Twenty-five bucks! That’s expensive.” The sudden transition from long paragraphs of description to short, choppy dialog feels strange. Maybe work some of the earlier description into the conversation instead.

“Well, son, it is for life. We wouldn’t want you to make a hasty decision.”

“I guess that makes sense.” Robert said shaking his head. I could see he was still trying to swallow the cost of the whole thing.

Seated at a nearby desk sat a woman with tortoise-shell glasses, an up-do, and an air of superiority. She eyed us up and down cautiously.

“Come on in and have a seat. Miss Swan will get your paperwork ready for you.” The fat man said, leading us to two chairs directly in front of the woman.

Miss Swan gave us a big fake smile and a contract. “Fill out these forms, and in the meantime, I will need to see your driver’s license.”

“Um. I don’t drive.” I said reflexively.

Do you have birth certificate or some other form of identification?”

I pulled my birth certificate out of my blue bag. Thankfully, I had been smart enough to pack it when I left.

The woman shook her head and frowned. “I’m sorry. We cannot marry you. You're not old enough.”

I stared at the woman baffled. “I thought everyone could get married in Nevada.”

“Not until you are eighteen. You have to have your parent's permission.” She informed us in firm tone.

“That’s the problem. Our parents don’t want us to get married. Can’t you help us?” Robert pled.

“Sorry, the law requires you have to be eighteen to be married without parental consent. Have you tried Tennessee?” She added with a hint of sarcasm. I was unnerved by the suspicious look on her face. I was afraid she might call the cops.

“Let’s go Robert. I will ask my parents tonight.” I said, covering our tracks

Robert looked at me funny for a moment, but quickly caught on to my ruse.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t help you.” The fat man called after us as we fled the pink house of horrors.

Robert and I beat it to the car and not a minute too soon as far as I was concerned. I didn’t want to get married by a fat guy with a bad comb-over in that ridiculous pink nightmare of a place anyway.

Robert draped his arm over my shoulder. “I’m sorry things didn’t work out, I tried.” He said regretfully. His eyes clouded over and I knew her meant it.

“Don’t worry about it.” I snorted. “That place was so gaudy, I was sure Elvis Presley was gonna come through the door in his signature white sequined jumpsuit with a guitar in hand to marry us himself.”

Robert let out a loud belly laugh. “Mary, what an imagination you have.” He said shaking his head. “Elvis. Ha!”

So I didn't feel particularly attached to the narrator or any of the characters. Even though it was in first person, I don't feel like she added much to the mood or feelings of the audience. There were times when she just recorded the events as they took place. I'd prefer to see her coloring the narrative with more of her perspective. When you're writing in 1st person, you should take advantage of the intimacy, instead of just writing in 3rd person with 1st person pronouns.

You also had some typos and punctuation errors that you might want to look over. I fixed some of them, but this could use a more thorough read than I gave.

I hope my critique was helpful! And good luck!

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Re: Forgive me 2nd try Need criticism on a Reno Wedding

Post by GeeGee55 » August 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

SSB wrote:Sorry for the post yesterday, I copied the wrong draft and posted the unedited copy, so I deleted it. I hope I did not wound too many eyes. (I couldn't bear to look at the count.) I have enough trouble getting it right after the seventh try. Anyway...

My novel takes place in 1976. It is about a 17 yr old runaway who fled New Jersey with her 20 yr old boyfriend. In this excerpt, they attempt to get married in Reno.


It's an interesting read. I'm not sure what sort of comments you are looking for or where in the story this excerpt appears, so I'll just offer comments as they occur to me.
We drove for an hour or so-delete more before Robert parked in front of a white brick building. The place looked like a church, well a fax-paux - a faux pas is a mistake in etiquette I think, so this is probably the wrong word church. The red OPEN sign in the window caught my eye. Above the eave of the roof where - no need for this phrase, go to what you see the neon sign A neon sign flashed WEDDINGS below a small steeple with a white cross. To the right of the door was a stained glass window with the word LOVE etched between two pink hearts; - I like this description black silhouette heads of a man and woman facing each other, decorated the next two adjoining windows.

“Come on. Let’s go get married!” Robert said taking me by the hand. He looked so cute (with his usual infectious grin) - I would delete this phrase, it makes the sentence awkward, I could have carried him over the threshold, but I restrained myself. Today was my smiley face day. - cute Once we were married, there would be no way anyone could tear us apart. We would belong to each other forever. My heart thumped (in anticipation)-not needed, the reader knows why her heart is thumping as we walked hand and hand - and we already know they are hand in hand toward the Chapel of Love.

Robert propped the storm door open for me. “Brides first.” He bowed slightly and gestured with his arm for me to move forward. - I cut the adverbs
I happily crossed the threshold, taking my first step toward becoming a married woman. My eyes popped. It was the gaudiest place I’d ever seen. Ox-blood carpet covered every inch of visible floor space. I almost became nauseous - this is a little over the top for me staring at the clashing Pepto-Bismol colored hearts decorated the walls and dangled from the ceiling. But, there was more. Just when I thought the place couldn’t be tackier, I eyed a humongous fake gold heart encapsulating a white podium, where I presumed the vows of matrimony took place.

No sooner, had the door rattled shut behind us and than a short fat man in a black appeared. “Hello, how may I help you?” He asked clearing his throat.

He didn’t look like a minister at all to me. His fat lips puckered out as if they were squeezed out of position by his chubby cheeks and he had a the stupidest looking comb over I’d ever seen. I glanced down at the floor, then at his nose, and then over at the wall, to curb the urge to stare directly at his head. One big gust of wind and he’d have hair down below his shoulder, at least on one side. By the shocked expression on his face, I was sure we didn’t look like the kind of clients he expected either. Robert’s uneven hair had grown well below his shoulders and his multi-patched faded jeans looked ragged. I was in dirty green down jacket and carpenter pants. We looked oddly out of place in this pristine pink house of horrors. - I don't know about this sentence, maybe He must have thought that we looked oddly... The fat man’s phony smile didn’t fool me, I could see the fear in his eyes. I figuredh - delete He thought we were going to rob the joint. We stared at him and he stared back at us perplexed. - I don't think this last sentence is needed, the sentence before has more punch and it's obvious they're looking at each other

“We want to get married.” Robert said grinning from ear to ear, breaking the momentary silence lingering in the air like a fowl odor - this phrase doesn't work for me, seems like you're trying a little too hard and you don't have to because you've got some good stuff here.

The fat man’s let out a guarded sigh, his stance relaxed somewhat, as he dabbed at his forehead with a white handkerchief. “Well son, you are in the right place.” He said.

“How much does it cost?” Robert asked.

“We have different packages. It all depends what you want.” He offered Robert a brochure.

“We just want the piece of paper, nothing special.”

“Our most economical package, which includes the ceremony, complementary music and the marriage certificate runs only twenty-five dollars.”

Robert’s jaw dropped open. “Twenty-five bucks! That’s expensive.”

“Well, son, it is for life. We wouldn’t want you to make a hasty decision.”

“I guess that makes sense.” Robert said shaking his head. I could see he was still trying to swallow the cost of the whole thing.

Seated at a nearby desk sat a woman with tortoise-shell glasses, an up-do, and an air of superiority. She eyed us up and down cautiously.

“Come on in and have a seat. Miss Swan will get your paperwork ready for you.” The fat man led us to two chairs directly in front of the woman.

Miss Swan gave us a big fake smile and a contract. “Fill out these forms, and in the meantime, I will need to see your driver’s license.”

“Um. I don’t drive.” I said reflexively.

Do you have birth certificate or some other form of identification?”

I pulled my birth certificate out of my blue bag. Thankfully, I had been smart enough to pack it when I left.

The woman shook her head and frowned. “I’m sorry. We cannot marry you. You're not old enough.”

I stared at the woman baffled. “I thought everyone could get married in Nevada.”

“Not until you are eighteen. You have to have your parents' permission.” She informed us in firm tone.

“That’s the problem. Our parents don’t want us to get married. Can’t you help us?” Robert pled.

“Sorry, the law requires you have-cut this word to be eighteen to be married without parental consent. Have you tried Tennessee?” She added with a hint of sarcasm. I was unnerved by the suspicious look on her face. I was afraid she might call the cops.

“Let’s go Robert. I will ask my parents tonight. - sounds a bit formal, maybe, I'll ask my mom and dad tonight” I said, covering our tracks

Robert looked at me funny for a moment, but quickly caught on to my ruse-give me his reaction here, what does he do, stand up, wink, what?.Show rather than tell

“I’m sorry we couldn’t help you.” The fat man called after us as we fled the pink house of horrors.

Robert and I beat it to the car and not a minute too soon as far as I was concerned. I didn’t want to get married by a fat guy with a bad comb-over in that ridiculous pink nightmare of a place anyway.

Robert draped his arm over my shoulder. “I’m sorry things didn’t work out, I tried.” He said regretfully. His eyes clouded over and I knew her meant it.

“Don’t worry about it.” I snorted. “That place was so gaudy, I was sure Elvis Presley was gonna come through the door in his signature white sequined jumpsuit with a guitar in hand to marry us himself.” - this just does not sound like something someone would say, too many words - try I was sure Elvis was gonna come through the door and marry us himself.[/color
]Robert let out a loud belly laugh.guffaw? “Mary, what an imagination you have.” He said shaking his head. “Elvis. Ha!”


I really enjoyed reading your excerpt. You've got some likable characters here and a funny situation. You use a lot of adverbs and I think you could cut most of them without losing anything in the story. Also this is the correct way to punctuate these sorts of sentences - "Mary, what an imagination you have," he said, shaking his head. I also noticed that you tend to use the ing form of verbs and it makes the writing stronger to use the verb itself - eg. He shook his head. Keep writing!

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SSB
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Re: Forgive me 2nd try Need criticism on a Reno Wedding

Post by SSB » August 31st, 2010, 6:24 am

Thank you both for your criticism. I have already applied some of your suggestions to my excerpt.

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