Life of a Suburban Unicorn - Ch1

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A.M.Kuska
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Life of a Suburban Unicorn - Ch1

Post by A.M.Kuska » April 14th, 2010, 12:09 pm

Any thoughts on this chapter would be appreciated. :)

-----------

Chapter One


Elizabeth Brooke was not spying. She stood in her own backyard, admiring a fine view that anyone could see from the road behind her, trying out a brand new pair of binoculars.

If she happened to be pointing them at the family her mother had leased the house and barn to, what was the difference? She saw nothing else to look at, unless you counted birds.
She glanced over her shoulder, checking to make sure the blinds of the guesthouse stayed shut. If mom caught her snooping, she’d rob Elizabeth of all her privileges. The house looked quiet. Elizabeth wiped her hands off on her shirt, telling herself it was the warm weather that caused them to sweat, and turned back to the scene below.

She found the eldest Fischer boy first. He lounged on the front porch, taking long lazy sips out of a glass of lemonade. He paid no attention to the world around him, his nose buried in a book.

Elizabeth snuck another look at the door. No movement. She didn't need to check inside to know mom sat at the kitchen table, lost in the stack of papers she referred to as, “Research.” Satisfied that her covert actions went undetected, Elizabeth adjusted the lenses and zoomed in, on the stables this time.

The barn nestled into the hillside, a long sweep of textured wood and corrugated metal. The roof arched high over sliding doors, giving plenty of room for a wide aisle and roomy stalls. It made a good home for the three horses they’d selected with care, and space also for the growth they hoped for.

She noticed a movement in the shadows of the barn, and leaned forward. This was the moment she’d been waiting for, a good look at the kid mother had put in charge of her horses. If he taught Rudyard any nasty tricks she’d--

“You know, they said you were welcome to drop by and see the horses at any time.”

Elizabeth dropped her binoculars, gasping when they hit a rock instead of grass. “I was just looking!” she blurted automatically, and then flushed. She hadn't intended to mention that, but mom probably knew anyway.

Mom raised an eyebrow at her, the binoculars, and the view down below. “I thought you wanted those for bird watching.”

The prepared speech Elizabeth had planned dribbled out of her mind under her mother’s matter-of-fact gaze. To give herself more time, she bent to scoop up the binoculars.
They didn’t appear damaged, but she buffed the lenses on her sleeve just in case the dust hid a scratch. “You said those two were special. I wanted to see why.”

She also wanted to see if their parents drove expensive cars, but she hadn't seen them yet. Being a kid didn't make Elizabeth stupid. If special was her mother's way of saying rich, she wanted to know.

“It’s not forever,” her mother said. “They need this. I hope you can understand that.”

Elizabeth nodded, turning away so her mother couldn't see the hurt on her face. Understanding wasn't what her mother wanted. If it was, she would have said something worth paying attention to. They never kept things from each other until the Fischer's came. Now everything seemed to be a secret. Even what the Fischer boys were doing on the property they called Greenwood.

Elizabeth never got a chance to say what she thought about moving into the guesthouse, or lending the horses to strangers, or why they needed to in the first place. How could she understand if she was never given a chance to do so?

The younger boy distracted her by galloping into the pasture, his eyes locked on the trio of horses. The lead rope flapped behind him, tangling around his legs until he stepped on it hard enough to trip. He fell over it, inches away from a lethal set of hooves. Elizabeth held her breath as Tess leaned down to sniff him in curiosity instead of fear.

“He’s going to have an accident if he keeps on like that,” she said, pointing to the kid as he stood up and began to wind the lead rope into a coil.

Mother followed Elizabeth’s finger, and frowned. “I don't think they're supposed to be out there without Mr. Fischer. I'll give him a call.”

Giving Mr. Fischer a call meant the boys would get in trouble. Judging by the concern in mom's voice, big trouble. Mom was already in the house. She had just minutes before Mr. Fisher came outside for a look.

Elizabeth stepped forward, pushing against the fence that stood as a barrier between the steep downward trail and the soft mown lawn, and waved her hands. “Hey!” she shouted.

Neither of them looked up. The boy was making a game out of slipping up behind Surrik. The horse didn't look up from its grazing as the boy crept close. Concern began to work its way into her brain. He did know not to sneak up on a horse, right?

Mother reappeared, their cordless phone to her ear. “Horses aren't the same,” she said into the phone. “They're animals. I don't want him to get hurt.”

She paused, listening. What ever the man, Mr. Fischer she assumed, said on the other end, it was causing her mother a world of hurt. “Look, I didn't know they would--” She looked at Elizabeth. “I can't change the past.”

Another pause. Elizabeth pretended to look through the binoculars, just so she wouldn't feel so bad about listening in.

“Just talk to the boys. I'll send Elizabeth down to help sort everything out.”

Elizabeth winced.

A fat man waddled out of the house, causing the eldest boy to jump to his feet. He called to the boy out in the pasture, made motions as if trying to show him something, and then waved it off and started to make his way over. Elizabeth put away her binoculars. She didn’t want to see any more.

Mother clicked the phone off, and put it in her pocket. “I didn't realize they knew so little about horses. You'd think with their background they'd be experts.”

“What's their background?” Elizabeth asked, trying not to sound too curious.

Mother waved it off. “They know a lot more about animals than either of us will ever learn in our lives. They just need to learn how to be safe.”

Elizabeth had never heard such an oddball statement coming from her mother before, nor seen her face so soft.

“Come in the house,” her mother said. “Summer will be over before you know it.”

She had to trust that her mother wouldn’t put Rudyard in the possession of someone who knew nothing about horses. The Fischer family was looking up at them now, expressions varying from cold to curious. Elizabeth ignored them, just as she tried to ignore the piercing whinny one of the horses gave as she turned back to the cottage. It was out of her hands now. The horses belonged to them.

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Re: Life of a Suburban Unicorn - Ch1

Post by GeeGee55 » April 17th, 2010, 12:46 pm

I feel a little confused about the situation - how come other ppl are living there, looking after EB's horses and she doesn't know why? Not that I want you to tell me, either, I know that must be confusing -
A.M.Kuska wrote:Any thoughts on this chapter would be appreciated. :)

-----------

Chapter One


Elizabeth Brooke was not spying. She stood in her own backyard, admiring a fine view that anyone could see from the road behind her, trying out a brand new pair of binoculars. I like this opening, gives me a sense of the character right away

If she happened to be pointing them at the family her mother had leased the guest or hired hands house? house and barn to, what was the difference? She saw nothing else to look at, unless you counted birds.
She glanced over her shoulder, checking to make sure the blinds of the guesthouse so she and her mother are in the guest house? stayed shut. If mom caught her snooping, she’d rob Elizabeth of all her privileges. The house looked quiet. Elizabeth wiped her hands off on her shirt, telling herself it was the warm weather that caused them to sweat, and turned back to the scene below.

She found the eldest Fischer boy first. He lounged on the front porch, taking long lazy sips out of a glass of lemonade. He paid no attention to the world around him, his nose buried in a book. good description

Elizabeth snuck another look at the door. No movement. She didn't need to check inside to know mom sat at the kitchen table, lost in the stack of papers she referred to as, “Research.” Satisfied that her covert actions went undetected, Elizabeth adjusted the lenses and zoomed in, on the stables this time.

The barn nestled into the hillside, a long sweep- this phrase is a bit off, does the long sweep refer to the barn or the landscape, otherwise this is good description of textured wood and corrugated metal. The roof arched high over sliding doors, giving plenty of room for a wide aisle and roomy stalls. It made a good home for the three horses they’d selected with care, and space also for the growth - needs a different expression I think they hoped for.

She noticed a movement in the shadows of the barn, and leaned forward. This was the moment she’d been waiting for, a good look at the kid mother had put in charge of her horses. If he taught Rudyard any nasty tricks she’d--

“You know, they said you were welcome to drop by and see the horses at any time.”

Elizabeth dropped her binoculars, gasping when they hit a rock instead of grass. “I was just looking!” she blurted automatically, and then flushed. She hadn't intended to mention that, but mom probably knew anyway.

Mom raised an eyebrow at her, the binoculars, and the view down below - I think you sometimes give too much info, perhaps better just to say Mom raised an eyebrow, I, the reader, know she has binoculars and that there is a view. “I thought you wanted those for bird watching.”

The prepared speech Elizabeth had planned dribbled out of her mind under her mother’s matter-of-fact gaze. To give herself more time, she bent to scoop up the binoculars.
They didn’t appear damaged, but she buffed the lenses on her sleeve just in case the dust hid a scratch. “You said those two were special. I wanted to see why.”

She also wanted to see if their parents drove expensive cars, but she hadn't seen them yet. Being a kid didn't make Elizabeth stupid. If special was her mother's way of saying rich, she wanted to know.

“It’s not forever,” her mother said. “They need this. I hope you can understand that.”

Elizabeth nodded, turning away so her mother couldn't see the hurt on her face. Understanding wasn't what her mother wanted. If it was, she would have said something worth paying attention to. They never kept things from each other until the Fischer's came. Now everything seemed to be a secret. Even what the Fischer boys were doing on the property they called Greenwood.

Elizabeth never got a chance to say what she thought about moving into the guesthouse, or lending the horses to strangers, or why they needed to in the first place. How could she understand if she was never given a chance to do so?

The younger boy distracted her by galloping- I don't think we want ppl galloping when there are also horses around, I think another word into the pasture, his eyes locked on the trio of horses. The lead rope flapped behind him, tangling around his legs until he stepped on it hard enough to trip. He fell over it, inches away from a lethal set of hooves. Elizabeth held her breath as Tess leaned down to sniff him in curiosity instead of fear.

“He’s going to have an accident if he keeps on like that,” she said, pointing to the kid as he stood up and began to wind the lead rope into a coil.

Mother followed Elizabeth’s finger, and frowned. “I don't think they're supposed to be out there without Mr. Fischer. I'll give him a call.”

Giving Mr. Fischer a call meant the boys would get in trouble. Judging by the concern in mom's voice, big trouble. Mom was already in the house. She had just minutes before Mr. Fisher came outside for a look.

Elizabeth stepped forward, pushing against the fence that stood as a barrier between the steep downward trail and the soft mown lawn, and waved her hands. “Hey!” she shouted.

Neither of them - the boys looked up. The boy - younger one was making a game out of slipping up behind Surrik. The horse didn't look up from its grazing as the boy crept close. Concern began to work its way into her brain. He did know not to sneak up on a horse, right? This could be more visual, for example, the boy crouched and approached the bay horse grazing in the lush grass, or something of that nature

Mother reappeared, their cordless phone to her ear. “Horses aren't the same,” she said into the phone. “They're animals. I don't want him to get hurt.”

She paused, listening. What ever the man, Mr. Fischer she assumed, said on the other end, it was causing her mother a world of hurt. “Look, I didn't know they would--” She looked at Elizabeth. “I can't change the past.”

Another pause. Elizabeth pretended to look through the binoculars, just so she wouldn't feel so bad about listening in.

“Just talk to the boys. I'll send Elizabeth down to help sort everything out.”

Elizabeth winced.

A fat man waddled out of the house, causing the eldest boy to jump to his feet. He called to the boy out in the pasture, made motions as if trying to show him something, and then waved it off and started to make his way over. Elizabeth put away her binoculars. She didn’t want to see any more.

Mother clicked the phone off, and put it in her pocket. “I didn't realize they knew so little about horses. You'd think with their background they'd be experts.”

“What's their background?” Elizabeth asked, trying not to sound too curious. - why would she not want to sound curious?and why would she not get mad at her mother's dismissal of her need to know?

Mother waved it off. “They know a lot more about animals than either of us will ever learn in our lives. They just need to learn how to be safe.” - this doesn't make sense to me either, if they know so much about animals why don't they know how to be safe?

Elizabeth had never heard such an oddball statement coming from her mother before, nor seen her face so soft.

“Come in the house,” her mother said. “Summer will be over before you know it.”

She had to trust that her mother wouldn’t put Rudyard in the possession of someone who knew nothing about horses. The Fischer family was looking up at them now, expressions varying from cold to curious. - how can she see their expressions when before she needed binoculars to see them Elizabeth ignored them, just as she tried to ignore the piercing whinny one of the horses gave as she turned back to the cottage. It was out of her hands now. The horses belonged to them.
I wasn't sure exactly what you were looking for in terms of a critique, so these are just some things that struck me as I read. I think you've got an interesting idea here, but it's not quite clear. I think you have a good idea who your characters are and how they act. I'm not sure why the girl is not more overtly annoyed with her mother, but perhaps that will come later? Good luck with it.

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Robin
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Re: Life of a Suburban Unicorn - Ch1

Post by Robin » April 17th, 2010, 10:50 pm

A.M.Kuska wrote:Any thoughts on this chapter would be appreciated. :)

-----------

Chapter One


Elizabeth Brooke was not spying. I like this opening.She stood in her own backyard, admiring a fine view that anyone could see from the road behind her, trying out a brand new pair of binoculars.

If she happened to be pointing them at the family her mother had leased the house and barn to, what was the difference? She saw nothing else to look at, unless you counted birds. Not fond of this sentence. It is a little choppy.
She glanced over her shoulder, checking to make sure the blinds of the guesthouse stayed shut. Was she looking at the house straight on earlier? If mom caught her snooping, she’d rob Elizabeth of all her privileges. The house looked quiet. Elizabeth wiped her hands off on her shirt, telling herself it was the warm weather that caused them to sweat, and turned back to the scene below.

She found the eldest Fischer boy first. He lounged on the front porch, taking long lazy sips out of a glass of lemonade. He paid no attention to the world around him, his nose buried in a book.I like

Elizabeth snuck omit "snuck" we already know she is on the look out. Maybe, "Elizabeth checked for her mother again... or something to that effectanother look at the door. No movement. She didn't need to check inside to know mom sat at the kitchen table, lost in the stack of papers she referred to as, “Research.” Satisfied that her covert actions went undetected, Elizabeth adjusted the lenses and zoomed in, on the stables this time.

The barn nestled into the hillside, a long sweep of textured wood and corrugated metal. The roof arched high over sliding doors, giving plenty of room for a wide aisle and roomy stalls. It made a good home for the three horses they’d selected with care, and space also for the growth they hoped for.I like

She noticed a movement in the shadows of the barn, and leaned forward. This was the moment she’d been waiting for, a good look at the kid mother had put in charge of her horses. If he taught Rudyard any nasty tricks she’d--

“You know, they said you were welcome to drop by and see the horses at any time.”

Elizabeth dropped her binoculars, gasping when they hit a rock instead of grass. “I was just looking!” she blurted automatically, and then flushed. She hadn't intended to mention that, but mom probably knew anyway.

Mom raised an eyebrow at her, the binoculars, and the view down below. “I thought you wanted those for bird watching.”

The prepared speech Elizabeth had planned dribbled out of her mind under her mother’s matter-of-fact gaze. To give herself more time, she bent to scoop up the binoculars.
They didn’t appear damaged, but she buffed the lenses on her sleeve just in case the dust hid a scratch. “You said those two were special. I wanted to see why.”

She also wanted to see if their parents drove expensive cars, but she hadn't seen them yet. Being a kid didn't make Elizabeth stupid. If special was her mother's way of saying rich, she wanted to know.

“It’s not forever,” her mother said. “They need this. I hope you can understand that.”

Elizabeth nodded, turning away so her mother couldn't see the hurt on her face. Understanding wasn't what her mother wanted. If it was, she would have said something worth paying attention to. They never kept things from each other until the Fischer's came. Now everything seemed to be a secret. Even what the Fischer boys were doing on the property they called Greenwood.

Elizabeth never got a chance to say what she thought about moving into the guesthouse, or lending the horses to strangers, or why they needed to in the first place. How could she understand if she was never given a chance to do so?

The younger boy distracted her by galloping into the pasture, his eyes locked on the trio of horses. The lead rope flapped behind him, tangling around his legs until he stepped on it hard enough to trip. He fell over it, inches away from a lethal set of hooves. Elizabeth held her breath as Tess leaned down to sniff him in curiosity instead of fear.

“He’s going to have an accident if he keeps on like that,” she said, pointing to the kid as he stood up and began to wind the lead rope into a coil.

Mother followed Elizabeth’s finger, and frowned. “I don't think they're supposed to be out there without Mr. Fischer. I'll give him a call.”

Giving Mr. Fischer a call meant the boys would get in trouble. Judging by the concern in mom's voice, big trouble. Mom was already in the house. She had just minutes before Mr. Fisher came outside for a look.

Elizabeth stepped forward, pushing against the fence that stood as a barrier between the steep downward trail and the soft mown lawn, and waved her hands. “Hey!” she shouted.

Neither of them looked up. The boy was making a game out of slipping up behind Surrik. The horse didn't look up from its grazing as the boy crept close. Concern began to work its way into her brain. He did know not to sneak up on a horse, right?

Mother reappeared, their cordless phone to her ear. “Horses aren't the same,” she said into the phone. “They're animals. I don't want him to get hurt.”

She paused, listening. What ever the man, Mr. Fischer she assumed, said on the other end, it was causing her mother a world of hurt. “Look, I didn't know they would--” She looked at Elizabeth. “I can't change the past.”

Another pause. Elizabeth pretended to look through the binoculars, just so she wouldn't feel so bad about listening in.

“Just talk to the boys. I'll send Elizabeth down to help sort everything out.”

Elizabeth winced.

A fat man waddled out of the house, causing the eldest boy to jump to his feet. He called to the boy out in the pasture, made motions as if trying to show him something, and then waved it off and started to make his way over. Elizabeth put away her binoculars. She didn’t want to see any more.

Mother clicked the phone off, and put it in her pocket. “I didn't realize they knew so little about horses. You'd think with their background they'd be experts.”

“What's their background?” Elizabeth asked, trying not to sound too curious.

Mother waved it off. “They know a lot more about animals than either of us will ever learn in our lives. They just need to learn how to be safe.”

Elizabeth had never heard such an oddball statement coming from her mother before, nor seen her face so soft.

“Come in the house,” her mother said. “Summer will be over before you know it.”

She had to trust that her mother wouldn’t put Rudyard in the possession of someone who knew nothing about horses. The Fischer family was looking up at them now, expressions varying from cold to curious. Elizabeth ignored them, just as she tried to ignore the piercing whinny one of the horses gave as she turned back to the cottage. It was out of her hands now. The horses belonged to them.
You may consider a little more of a setup with the whole spying thing. It was a little rushed to me. Overall, I would like to see more. :)
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Re: Life of a Suburban Unicorn - Ch1

Post by A.M.Kuska » April 18th, 2010, 1:49 pm

Thank you both for taking the time to reply! I was looking for just this sort of stuff. The more problems I can strip from it, the better.

GeeGee - I agree with you on everything, but specifically about her not being upset enough. In the original she acted out a little bit more, but I discovered that it made her a bit harder to sympathize with.

Robin - I really appreciate you taking the time to deconstruct that barn description. It's bothered me for quite some time, but nothing seemed right. >.<

This is exactly the sort of stuff I was looking for. ^^ Thank you both!

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Re: Life of a Suburban Unicorn - Ch1

Post by HillaryJ » April 20th, 2010, 1:45 am

Elizabeth Brooke was not spying. - Nice bit of characterization in the first sentence.

She saw nothing else to look at, unless you counted birds. *Passive, and this would be a good time to reveal the location, as in “Western Kentucky yielded little of interest, other than tick-infested grass, towering trees and boughs filled with lazily-chittering birds”.*

He paid no attention to the world around him *cliché. How about “to his new surroundings” or "it must not have been so different from where he came from, because he didn't so much as look up, his nose buried in a book.

If special was her mother's way of saying rich, she wanted to know. *I like this bit of characterization.*

Whatever the man, Mr. Fischer she assumed, said on the other end, it was causing her mother a world of hurt.

This is a nice scene that shows some insight into Elizabeth's character. It also brings up some mysteries, about the Fischers, about why Ms. Brooke's would lease a house and family animals to them, and something about the past. It's almost too much mystery. It would be nice for her mother to have told Elizabeth that the arrangement was due to money problems or something, but have Elizabeth suspect there is more to it than that.

Watch your pronouns. There were times when I wasn't sure which family was being talked about. Please note that Mom is correct when Elizabeth calls her "Mom" rather than stating her name, and mom is correct when referring to "her mom".
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Re: Life of a Suburban Unicorn - Ch1

Post by Emily J » April 20th, 2010, 11:26 am

A.M.Kuska wrote:Any thoughts on this chapter would be appreciated. :)

-----------

Chapter One


Elizabeth Brooke was not spying. Great opener She stood in her own backyard, admiring a fine view that anyone could see from the road behind her, trying out a brand new pair of binoculars.

If she happened to be pointing them at the family her mother had leased the house and barn to, what was the difference? She saw nothing else to look at, unless you counted birds.
She glanced over her shoulder, checking to make sure the blinds of the guesthouse stayed shut. If mom caught her snooping, she’d rob Elizabeth of all her privileges. This is a bit vague, and if this is Elizabeth's thoughts it doesn't quite sound like a kid (not sure how old Elizabeth is tho) The house looked quiet. Elizabeth wiped her hands off on her shirt, telling herself it was the warm weather that caused them to sweat, and turned back to the scene below.

She found the eldest Fischer boy first. He lounged on the front porch, taking long lazy sips out of a glass of lemonade. He paid no attention to the world around him, his nose buried in a book. this is a cliche

Elizabeth snuck another look at the door. No movement. She didn't need to check inside to know mom sat at the kitchen table, lost in the stack of papers she referred to as, “Research.” Satisfied that her covert actions went undetected, Elizabeth adjusted the lenses and zoomed in, on the stables this time.

The barn nestled into the hillside, a long sweep of textured wood and corrugated metal. The roof arched high over sliding doors, giving plenty of room for a wide aisle and roomy stalls. It made a good home telling, a bit forced here for the three horses they’d selected with care, and space also for the growth they hoped for.

She noticed a movement in the shadows of the barn, and leaned forward. This was the moment she’d been waiting for, a good look at the kid mother had put in charge of her horses. If he taught Rudyard any nasty tricks she’d--

“You know, they said you were welcome to drop by and see the horses at any time.”

Elizabeth dropped her binoculars, gasping when they hit a rock instead of grass. “I was just looking!” she blurted automatically, and then flushed. She hadn't intended to mention that, but mom probably knew anyway.

Mom raised an eyebrow at her, the binoculars, and the view down below. “I thought you wanted those for bird watching.”

The prepared speech Elizabeth had planned prepared speech she had planned feels redundant to me dribbled out of her mind under her mother’s matter-of-fact gaze. To give herself more time, she bent to scoop up the binoculars.
They didn’t appear damaged, but she buffed the lenses on her sleeve just in case the dust hid a scratch. “You said those two were special. I wanted to see why.”

She also wanted to see if their parents drove expensive cars, but she hadn't seen them yet. Being a kid didn't make Elizabeth stupid. If special was her mother's way of saying rich, she wanted to know.

“It’s not forever,” her mother said. “They need this. I hope you can understand that.”

Elizabeth nodded, turning away so her mother couldn't see the hurt on her face. Understanding wasn't what her mother wanted. If it was, she would have said something worth paying attention to. They never kept things from each other until the Fischer's came. Now everything seemed to be a secret. Even what the Fischer boys were doing on the property they whose "they?" indefinite pronoun herecalled Greenwood.

Elizabeth never got a chance to say what she thought about moving into the guesthouse, or lending the horses to strangers, or why they needed to in the first place. How could she understand if she was never given a chance to do so? "to do so" feels a bit awkward, maybe "How could she understand, she was never given a chance to?"

The younger boy distracted her by galloping into the pasture, galloping is an interesting word choice given the horses, but it could work, especially if the Fischers are shape-shifters (just a guess) his eyes locked on the trio of horses. The lead rope flapped behind him, tangling around his legs until he stepped on it hard enough to trip. He fell over it, inches away from a lethal set of hooves. Elizabeth held her breath as Tess leaned down to sniff him in curiosity instead of fear.

“He’s going to have an accident if he keeps on like that,” she said, pointing to the kid as he stood up and began to wind the lead rope into a coil.

Mother followed Elizabeth’s finger, and frowned. “I don't think they're supposed to be out there without Mr. Fischer. I'll give him a call.”

Giving Mr. Fischer a call meant the boys would get in trouble. Judging by the concern in mom's voice, big trouble. Mom was already in the house. She had just minutes before Mr. Fisher came outside for a look.

Elizabeth stepped forward, pushing against the fence that stood as a barrier between the steep downward trail and the soft mown lawn, and waved her hands. “Hey!” she shouted. Now I am a bit confused, how close is she to the boys and horses? Was she spying on them from ten feet away? Because that is the comical image I have in my head now

Neither of them looked up. Right now all i know is one boy in the pasture. Whose "neither of them?" The other one drinking lemonade? The boy was making a game out of slipping up behind Surrik. The horse didn't look up from its grazing as the boy crept close. Concern began to work its way into her brain. He did know not to sneak up on a horse, right?

Mother reappeared, their cordless phone to her ear. “Horses aren't the same,” she said into the phone. “They're animals. I don't want him to get hurt.”

She paused, listening. What ever the man, Mr. Fischer she assumed, said on the other end, it was causing her mother a world of hurt. “Look, I didn't know they would--” She looked at Elizabeth. “I can't change the past.” this is good, gives us a sense of those secrets

Another pause. Elizabeth pretended to look through the binoculars, just so she wouldn't feel so bad about listening in.

“Just talk to the boys. I'll send Elizabeth down to help sort everything out.”

Elizabeth winced.

A fat man waddled out of the house, causing the eldest boy to jump to his feet. He called to the boy out in the pasture, made motions as if trying to show him something, and then waved it off and started to make his way over. Elizabeth put away her binoculars. She didn’t want to see any more.

Mother clicked the phone off, and put it in her pocket. “I didn't realize they knew so little about horses. You'd think with their background they'd be experts.”

“What's their background?” Elizabeth asked, trying not to sound too curious.

Mother waved it off. “They know a lot more about animals than either of us will ever learn in our lives. They just need to learn how to be safe.”

Elizabeth had never heard such an oddball statement coming from her mother before, nor seen her face so soft.

“Come in the house,” her mother said. “Summer will be over before you know it.”

She had to trust that her mother wouldn’t put Rudyard in the possession of someone who knew nothing about horses. The Fischer family was looking up at them now, expressions varying from cold to curious. Elizabeth ignored them, just as she tried to ignore the piercing whinny one of the horses gave as she turned back to the cottage. It was out of her hands now. The horses belonged to them.
This is pretty good, you have some nice descriptions and good dialogue. I like the opener sentence. Just a bit confused as to where she is standing that they can't see her with the binoculars.

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Re: Life of a Suburban Unicorn - Ch1

Post by ocelott » April 23rd, 2010, 10:27 pm

A.M.Kuska wrote:Any thoughts on this chapter would be appreciated. :)

-----------

Chapter One


Elizabeth Brooke was not spying. She stood in her own backyard, admiring a fine view that anyone could see from the road behind her, trying out a brand new pair of binoculars.

If she happened to be pointing them at the family her mother had leased the house and barn to, what was the difference? She saw nothing else to look at, unless you counted birds.
She glanced over her shoulder, checking to make sure the blinds of the guesthouse stayed shut. If mom caught her snooping, she’d rob Elizabeth of all her privileges. The house looked quiet. Elizabeth wiped her hands off on her shirt, telling herself it was the warm weather that caused them to sweat, and turned back to the scene below.

She found the eldest Fischer boy first. He lounged on the front porch, taking long lazy sips out of a glass of lemonade. He paid no attention to the world around him, his nose buried in a book.

Elizabeth snuck another look at the door. No movement. She didn't need to check inside to know mom sat at the kitchen table, lost in the stack of papers she referred to as, “Research.” Satisfied that her covert actions went undetected, Elizabeth adjusted the lenses and zoomed in, on the stables this time.

The barn nestled into the hillside, a long sweep of textured wood and corrugated metal. The roof arched high over sliding doors, giving plenty of room for a wide aisle and roomy stalls. It made a good home for the three horses they’d selected with care, and space also for the growth they hoped for. This sentence strikes me as a little awkward.

She noticed a movement in the shadows of the barn, and leaned forward. This was the moment she’d been waiting for, a good look at the kid mother had put in charge of her horses. If he taught Rudyard any nasty tricks she’d--

“You know, they said you were welcome to drop by and see the horses at any time.”

Elizabeth dropped her binoculars, gasping when they hit a rock instead of grass. “I was just looking!” she blurted automatically, and then flushed. She hadn't intended to mention that, but mom probably knew anyway.

Mom raised an eyebrow at her, the binoculars, and the view down below. “I thought you wanted those for bird watching.” Interesting that only a few paragraphs ago, Elizabeth was certain her mother would punish her and strip her of all privileges upon catching her with the binoculars.

The prepared speech Elizabeth had planned dribbled out of her mind under her mother’s matter-of-fact gaze. To give herself more time, she bent to scoop up the binoculars.
They didn’t appear damaged, but she buffed the lenses on her sleeve just in case the dust hid a scratch. “You said those two were special. I wanted to see why.”

She also wanted to see if their parents drove expensive cars, but she hadn't seen them yet. Being a kid didn't make Elizabeth stupid. If special was her mother's way of saying rich, she wanted to know.

“It’s not forever,” her mother said. “They need this. I hope you can understand that.”

Elizabeth nodded, turning away so her mother couldn't see the hurt on her face. Understanding wasn't what her mother wanted. If it was, she would have said something worth paying attention to. They never kept things from each other until the Fischer's No apostrophe! This is plural, not possessivecame. Now everything seemed to be a secret. Even what the Fischer boys were doing on the property they called Greenwood.

Elizabeth never got a chance to say what she thought about moving into the guesthouse, or lending the horses to strangers, or why they needed to in the first place. How could she understand if she was never given a chance to do so?This sentence doesn't fit with the rest of the paragraph. Having a chance to voice her opinion so she can say "Mom, I don't want to give up all my stuff to a bunch of strangers" doesn't strike me as something leading to understanding.

The younger boy distracted her by galloping into the pasture, his eyes locked on the trio of horses. The lead rope flapped behind him, tangling around his legs until he stepped on it hard enough to trip. He fell over it, inches away from a lethal set of hooves. Elizabeth held her breath as Tess leaned down to sniff him in curiosity instead of fear.

“He’s going to have an accident if he keeps on like that,” she said, pointing to the kid as he stood up and began to wind the lead rope into a coil.

Mother followed Elizabeth’s finger, and frowned. “I don't think they're supposed to be out there without Mr. Fischer. I'll give him a call.”

Giving Mr. Fischer a call meant the boys would get in trouble. Judging by the concern in mom's voice, big trouble. Mom was already in the house. She had just minutes before Mr. Fisher came outside for a look.

Elizabeth stepped forward, pushing against the fence that stood as a barrier between the steep downward trail and the soft mown lawn, and waved her hands. “Hey!” she shouted.

Neither of them looked up. The boy was making a game out of slipping up behind Surrik. The horse didn't look up from its grazing as the boy crept close. Concern began to work its way into her brain. He did know not to sneak up on a horse, right?

Mother reappeared, their cordless phone to her ear. “Horses aren't the same,” she said into the phone. “They're animals. I don't want him to get hurt.”

She paused, listening. What ever the man, Mr. Fischer she assumed, said on the other end, it was causing her mother a world of hurt. “Look, I didn't know they would--” She looked at Elizabeth. “I can't change the past.” Good line. Intriguing!

Another pause. Elizabeth pretended to look through the binoculars, just so she wouldn't feel so bad about listening in.

“Just talk to the boys. I'll send Elizabeth down to help sort everything out.”

Elizabeth winced.

A fat man waddled out of the house, causing the eldest boy to jump to his feet. He called to the boy out in the pasture, made motions as if trying to show him something, and then waved it off and started to make his way over. Elizabeth put away her binoculars. She didn’t want to see any more.

Mother clicked the phone off, and put it in her pocket. “I didn't realize they knew so little about horses. You'd think with their background they'd be experts.”

“What's their background?” Elizabeth asked, trying not to sound too curious.

Mother waved it off. “They know a lot more about animals than either of us will ever learn in our lives. They just need to learn how to be safe.”

Elizabeth had never heard such an oddball statement coming from her mother before, nor seen her face so soft.

“Come in the house,” her mother said. “Summer will be over before you know it.”

She had to trust that her mother wouldn’t put Rudyard in the possession of someone who knew nothing about horses. The Fischer family was looking up at them now, expressions varying from cold to curious. Elizabeth ignored them, just as she tried to ignore the piercing whinny one of the horses gave as she turned back to the cottage. It was out of her hands now. The horses belonged to them.
This is a nice beginning. Just enough to set things up and leave the reader wanting more.

A.M.Kuska
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Re: Life of a Suburban Unicorn - Ch1

Post by A.M.Kuska » April 25th, 2010, 1:29 pm

Wow, thank you Hillary, Emily and Ocelott for responding!

I've changed the redundancy already. -.- I hate it when I repeat myself. How embarassing!

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