Author Topic: New: Hopefully final revision: first half ch 1: The Occasional Mistress  (Read 12646 times)

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Revised Opening for The Occasional Mistress 563 words now
« Reply #45 on: November 28, 2010, 12:35:33 PM »
I'd mentioned earlier:

I need the date sequence because she lives in England, teaches, her boss attends the funeral [relevant later] and the speed with which they bury folk in NI hasn't allowed much time for all of this to come together.

If the dates aren't there the reader will probably wonder why she gets her knickers in a twist with her Boss [who has had to come over from England and is a git just being seen to be seen and uses the occasion later on to ask her to recruit seem of the good chaps he noticed at the graveside on to the Caledonian Ball Committee, end of term thing] funeral is in NI because it's a family plot and getting there so quickly is a bugger and shows a real effort on the part of her colleagues who would ordinarily have skipped off on hols by now, teaching dates are relevant to how the mc eventually manages to combine a social life beyond the telephone with her friend [a theme throughout] formerly engaged to her brother-in-law and is based in NI. In NI the schools break up at the end of June not near the end of July like in England - also relevant later. Readers might not know these things so I thought they needed at least a reference point.

I kind of like the repetition because all the dates just tumble one after the other and she can't avoid them because each has its own significance.

Thanks for your comments. :) :) :)

Tempered

  • Guest
Re: Revised Opening for The Occasional Mistress 563 words now
« Reply #46 on: November 28, 2010, 12:45:49 PM »
it just seems like you are setting up a story before it needs to be told. when he confronts her about the timing, then she can look back and explain, bring the dates forward in their close association of time so we see back to her reasoning, see those three dates and their importance.


eh, you know me a little by now, Sio :P I see things weird.

It works as you have it, I'm not saying it doesn't, I am just gave a different look, but I like your reasoning too :)


Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Revised Opening for The Occasional Mistress 563 words now
« Reply #47 on: November 28, 2010, 12:53:17 PM »
Can see where you're coming from...but I thought it would be good to get some of those bits in early so that the reader knows/guesses it's not just going to be about - oh I miss my husband...which the first chapter is pretty much about to show how she comes through her bereavement.

It's sort of a love story but with a sting/twist. The woman is a disaster.

She is also nuts...reckon you'd probably twigged that from who the author is. :D :D :D

Tempered

  • Guest
Re: Revised Opening for The Occasional Mistress 563 words now
« Reply #48 on: November 28, 2010, 05:00:39 PM »
I like my writing friends crazy :)

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Revised Opening for The Occasional Mistress 563 words now
« Reply #49 on: November 28, 2010, 05:02:04 PM »
 :)
 :-*

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Hopefully final revision: opening: The Occasional Mistress [672 words]
« Reply #50 on: December 29, 2010, 03:09:07 PM »

1
Band Of Gold

    Widow. Louise’s clammy hands fidgeted with the commemorative order of service, making an ugly dog-ear on the paper that confirmed it. Without thinking, she rubbed at her wedding ring while the minister declared in sombre tone,  “From dust we are made, unto dust we return.” The words hollowed her. Crumbles of friable earth were strewn with great ceremony into the hole containing Joseph William Kilpatrick -- 1952-1999. She blotted out their tiny thuds just as she’d ignored the whine of the coffin rope and clenched her jaw line tight.
           
     July 22nd he had died, July 23rd had been the last day of term and July 24th, circled in sun-faded ink on Louise Kilpatrick’s kitchen calendar, was her fortieth birthday. The long anticipated birthday party would be replaced by her husband’s wake.
     
     Mourners at the graveside gave discreet tugs at cuffs and necklines in the oppressive heat, regretting their decisions to adopt the conventional black ensemble. The solemn occasion commanded tradition be observed and Louise noted the ladies, in their immodest Little Black Dresses, disguised the summer profusion of inappropriate lace, straps and frills with dark winter coats. She smiled to herself, thankful for their respect and cast a glance at their partners. The men, in lightweight suits, winced as collars and ties pinched their swollen necks. Throughout the ceremony Louise, her son and her daughter stood unaffected by the soaring temperatures. The chill of loss chiselled a poor disguise of stoicism on their stony faces, intertwined fingers clasped and clenched together in nervous agitation. Louise folded back the corner of the morbid keepsake again.
   
     Much of the ritual passed in a blur for Louise. Only intermittent strobe-like moments had been consciously captured by her worried mind. Her attention dwelt on feelings of sorrow, loss, confusion about the future and concern that the day’s events should run with smooth efficiency. Trying to focus on responsibility and respectfulness as the reality of the day, was proving difficult in such surreal surroundings. Her mind drifted from the funereal monologue and she turned her eyes skyward for inspiration. She was struck by how beautiful a summer’s day it was. The sky was unusually cloudless, the sun dominated the blue expanse above, its rays shone down hard on the bleached grass beneath and bounced back in a shimmering heat haze. It occurred to her that it wasn’t the scene for a funeral! Her mind willed something else, anything other than this. There should be bright colours peeping through barbeque smoke, laughter and music should be dancing on the air. Louise was conflicted with images of the party, planned with her husband and the gravity of the here and now. Damn you J-dub! 
     
     She couldn’t look anyone directly in the eye and it seemed indecent somehow to stare at the hole where her husband lay. Many of the mourners would have been guests sharing fun and raising glasses to toast her many more years to come. Instead they would later be raising their glasses to ‘absent friends’. He’s supposed to be in London, alive and mischievous and wrestling with Marty or teasing Sasha about her latest choice in music or even arguing or shouting or… just holding me, just holding me.
   
     A tug on her elbow brought her attention back. Gravesiders were beginning to move toward her. They offered condolences and remarked on the moving eulogy delivered by her son to which she gave polite, meaningless nods. Louise noticed the guests looking at her, staring almost. They wore looks of anticipation as if they were expecting her to do something, exactly quite what, she couldn’t imagine. Marjorie, her mother-in-law, joined her and Louise realised she was expected to lead them back to the house.
     
     Marjorie!  She had lost a son and was a recent widow herself. The jolt of another’s pain made Louise step outside her own emotions and spurred her to more effective function. With a weak smile, she offered her arm to support Marjorie as they meandered to the cars in silence.

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Hopefully final revision: opening: The Occasional Mistress [672 words]
« Reply #51 on: March 08, 2011, 07:42:05 PM »
This is the one I think I'm going to go with.

Anything obvious I've missed . . .  my own eyes don't work on my stuff?

1
Band Of Gold

    Louise’s clammy hands fidgeted with the commemorative order of service, making an ugly dog-ear on the paper that confirmed it. Widow. She rubbed at her wedding ring. “From dust we are made, unto dust we return.” The words hollowed her. Crumbles of earth were strewn with practised flourish into the hole containing Joseph William Kilpatrick -- 1952-1999. She winced at their tiny thuds, just as she’d grimaced at the whine of the coffin rope, and clenched her molars to set her face hard again.
          
     July 22nd he had died, July 23rd had been the last day of term and July 24th, circled in sun-faded ink on her kitchen calendar, was her fortieth birthday. The long anticipated birthday party would be replaced by her husband’s wake.
    
     Mourners at the graveside gave discreet tugs at cuffs and necklines in the oppressive heat, regretting their decisions to adopt the conventional black ensemble. The solemn occasion commanded tradition be observed and Louise noted the ladies, in their immodest Little Black Dresses, disguised the summer profusion of inappropriate lace, straps and frills with dark winter coats. She smiled to herself, thankful for their respect and cast a glance at their partners. The men, in lightweight suits, winced as collars and ties pinched their swollen necks. Throughout the ceremony Louise, her son and her daughter stood unaffected by the soaring temperatures. The chill of loss chiselled a poor disguise of stoicism on their stony faces, intertwined fingers clasped and clenched together in nervous agitation. Louise folded back the corner of the morbid keepsake again.
  
     Much of the ritual passed in a blur for Louise. Only intermittent strobe-like moments had been consciously captured by her worried mind. Her attention dwelt on feelings of sorrow, loss, confusion about the future and concern that the day’s events should run with smooth efficiency. Trying to focus on responsibility and respectfulness as the reality of the day, was proving difficult in such surreal surroundings. Her mind drifted from the funereal monologue and she turned her eyes skyward for inspiration. She was struck by how beautiful a summer’s day it was. The sky was unusually cloudless for Northern Ireland. The sun dominated the blue expanse above, its rays shone down hard on the bleached grass beneath and bounced back in a shimmering heat haze. It occurred to her that it wasn’t the scene for a funeral! Her mind willed something else, anything other than this. There should be bright colours peeping through barbeque smoke, laughter and music should be dancing on the air. Louise was conflicted with images of the party, planned with her husband, and the gravity of the here and now. Damn you J-dub!  
    
     She couldn’t look anyone directly in the eye and it seemed indecent somehow to stare at the hole where her husband lay. Many of the mourners would have been guests sharing fun and raising glasses to toast her many more years to come. Instead they would later be raising their glasses to ‘absent friends’. He’s supposed to be in London, alive and mischievous and wrestling with Marty or teasing Sasha about her latest choice in music or even arguing or shouting or… just holding me, just holding me.
  
     A tug on her elbow brought her attention back. Gravesiders were beginning to move toward her. They offered condolences and remarked on the moving eulogy delivered by her son to which she gave polite, meaningless nods. Louise noticed the guests looking at her, staring almost. They wore looks of anticipation as if they were expecting her to do something, exactly quite what, she couldn’t imagine. Marjorie, her mother-in-law, joined her and Louise realised she was expected to lead them back to the house.
    
     Marjorie! She had lost a son and was a recent widow herself. The jolt of another’s pain made Louise step outside her own emotions and spurred her to more effective function. With a weak smile, she offered her arm to support Marjorie as they meandered to the cars in silence.

« Last Edit: March 11, 2011, 10:30:02 AM by 510bhan »

Offline Butterfly21

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1068
  • Dreaming big isn't a waste of time.
Re: Hopefully final revision: opening: The Occasional Mistress [672 words]
« Reply #52 on: March 09, 2011, 07:15:03 PM »
I liked it
It sounds very smart - the way its written
I like your descriptions of the environment - i almost fell into a dream reading it - it flows so nicely
  :)

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Hopefully final revision: opening: The Occasional Mistress [672 words]
« Reply #53 on: March 09, 2011, 07:20:19 PM »
Thank you - 'preciated.  :) :) :)

Offline Butterfly21

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1068
  • Dreaming big isn't a waste of time.
Re: Hopefully final revision: opening: The Occasional Mistress [672 words]
« Reply #54 on: March 09, 2011, 07:29:50 PM »
No prob - would love to read more  :)

Offline RamaCaida

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: Hopefully final revision: opening: The Occasional Mistress [672 words]
« Reply #55 on: March 09, 2011, 08:43:48 PM »
Paragraph 4 could be revised to read as interior monologue instead of the author's account.  We know (or would expect) that widow is in a state of shock, feeling sorrow, loss, confusion, etc.   You don't need to tell the reader directly, but can clearly demonstrate the widow's sentiments indirectly by including her view of the surroundings - the weather, the grass, etc. 
Quote
Much of the ritual passed in a blur for Louise. Only intermittent strobe-like moments had been consciously captured by her worried mind. Her attention dwelt on feelings of sorrow, loss, confusion about the future and concern that the day’s events should run with smooth efficiency. Trying to focus on responsibility and respectfulness as the reality of the day, was proving difficult in such surreal surroundings. Her mind drifted from the funereal monologue and she turned her eyes skyward for inspiration. She was struck by how beautiful a summer’s day it was. The sky was unusually cloudless, the sun dominated the blue expanse above, its rays shone down hard on the bleached grass beneath and bounced back in a shimmering heat haze. It occurred to her that it wasn’t the scene for a funeral! Her mind willed something else, anything other than this. There should be bright colours peeping through barbeque smoke, laughter and music should be dancing on the air. Louise was conflicted with images of the party, planned with her husband and the gravity of the here and now. Damn you J-dub! 

The most effective writing here is the last line, which shows that Louise is angry, a natural stage in grieving.  You don't need the italics at all for narration of inner thoughts.

Offline Journey

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 187
  • Learn something new every day
Re: Hopefully final revision: opening: The Occasional Mistress [672 words]
« Reply #56 on: March 09, 2011, 10:53:54 PM »
I did not go back and read this thread from the beginning, so I will comment on the last revision you made.

First of all you write beautifully. I'm not surprised, after reading all the crits you offer, you clearly know what you're doing.

A few small things jumped out at me.

clenched her jaw line tight. You can clench your jaw tight, but a jaw line is a visual. Clenching your jaw would cause a tight jaw line, but I'm not sure you can clench a jaw line per say.

In one sentence you say Mourners at the graveside gave discreet tugs at cuffs and necklines in the oppressive heat and in the next sentence you say disguised the summer profusion of inappropriate lace, straps and frills with dark winter coats. It's a hot day in July, would anyone really be wearing a winter coat?

The sky was unusually cloudless, the sun dominated the blue expanse above - redundant

Gravesiders? Is that a word. It's not in my dictionary.

she offered her arm to support Marjorie as they meandered to the cars in silence. personally, I don't like that choice of word. Meandered implies wandering, but they were not wandering, they had a specific destination - the car. They may have sauntered, or lingered slowly or walked laboriously to the car.

I felt her pain, her sorrow. It's very well written Sio.



Writing takes me to places and times that Air Miles doesn't cover.

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Hopefully final revision: opening: The Occasional Mistress [672 words]
« Reply #57 on: March 10, 2011, 06:44:10 AM »
Thanks for your comments Rama Caida and Ella. The clothes . . . have you got a black summer outfit for a funeral? Funerals in NI are incredibly formal affairs, especially Presbyterian ones and standards have to be maintained (part of this is important for the story later where certain characters are obessed with 'image') so it is what happens - winter coats come out. The funerals happen so quickly, there'd be no time for shopping for something suitable and lightweight.

Using meander was to convey the winding path from the plot to the car park but I can see how a different word choice might be better.

Gravesiders = new word ;D ;D ;D

Her observations about the sky are important to her as she suffers from SAD and abhors grey, her SAD features in several decisions she makes later in the story.

Thank you so much for your helpful comments - 'preciated. :) :) :)

Offline junel

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 938
Re: Hopefully final revision: opening: The Occasional Mistress [672 words]
« Reply #58 on: March 11, 2011, 01:00:42 AM »

Okay, so I was really hesitant in critiquing this, because I wasn't sure if my suggestions were just me imposing my own writing style, or if there genuinely were things that could have been better written.

In the end, I decided to critique and let you decide for yourself.

So here goes...

____________


Widow.

Straight off, this doesn't make sense. Of course it doesn't, it's one word and not a sentence, thus lacking context and definition. I thought it might be a 'sub-title' for the chapter and I would see more as the chapter went on. 

Louise’s clammy hands fidgeted with the commemorative order of service, making an ugly dog-ear on the paper that confirmed it.

Aaah... I see... 'Widow'... makes sense now. But do you want that slight confusion at the begining?
How about...

Louise’s clammy hands fidgeted with the commemorative order of service, making an ugly dog-ear on the paper that confirmed it. Widow.

Is 'dogear' correct? The dictionary definition is... A corner of a page turned down to mark your place. Has she marked a page? What page has she marked? I don't think you mean she marked a page titled 'Widow', so I was left wondering what page she marked and its significance.

Without thinking, she rubbed at her wedding ring while the minister declared in sombre tone,  “From dust we are made, unto dust we return.” The words hollowed her. Crumbles of friable earth were strewn with great ceremony into the hole containing Joseph William Kilpatrick -- 1952-1999. She blotted out their tiny thuds just as she’d ignored the whine of the coffin rope and clenched her jaw line tight.

I don't think 'Without thinking' expresses what you want here, because it implies she would need to be thinking to be rubbing at her wedding ring, which is precisely the opposite of what your going for. I also think the minister - NOT HIS WORDS - could be omitted altogether. I think a golden opportunity in writing is when something is so well known that it requires no definition whatsoever, this is such an opportunity. For example, if I wrote:

'Do you John Doe take this woman, Jane Doe, to be lawfully wedded wife...'

I do not have to define the tone or by whom it is being said or the occassion, it is that well known.

“From dust we are made, unto dust we return.”
... carries with it a sombre tone and a minister, so that's why I say his descriptions can be omitted. Something like this...

Louise’s clammy hands fidgeted with the commemorative order of service, making an ugly dog-ear on the paper that confirmed it. Widow.
  “From dust we are made, unto dust we return...” The words hollowed her
... and so on.
 
'Crumbles' and 'friable' present the same image, so it's either one or the other, otherwise you're repeating yourself.

...strewn with great ceremony...

This reads like a paradox. 'Strewn' would imply haphazardness, whilst 'ceremony' implies some kind of order and planning. So which is it? They clash and mess up the image.

Crumbles of friable earth were strewn with great ceremony into the hole containing Joseph William Kilpatrick -- 1952-1999. She blotted out their tiny thuds just as she’d ignored the whine of the coffin rope and clenched her jaw line tight.

I think you need to mention the coffin prior to the thuds, otherwise the image is incomplete, i.e. what is the earth thudding on? As it is, the image is, the earth is thudding onto Joseph's body. 'Clench' means tightening, so you're repeating yourself with 'tight' at the end. Something about 'blotted' bothers me. I'd associate it more with something visual, like... the spaceship blotted out the sun... but I'm not so sure it works so well with sound like you have done with 'thud'.

July 22nd he had died, July 23rd had been the last day of term and July 24th, circled in sun-faded ink on Louise Kilpatrick’s kitchen calendar, was her fortieth birthday. The long anticipated birthday party would be replaced by her husband’s wake.

I think you should mention her full name right at the top, at the begining, so there's no need to reveal it here.

Rewrite:

July 22nd, his passing; July 23rd, the last day of term; July 24th, circled in sun-faded ink in her calendar, her fortieth birthday. The long awaited party, now replaced by her husband’s wake.

I know some people don't like dates or lists in fiction writing, but I love it. I think it adds pace, an intensity, and can be wonderfully rounded off and led to a conclusion. As you have.
     
So that's all I've got.

Man, that's a lot of critiquing for two short paragraphs... I need help.  :o

This is going to sound strange considering the amount of critiquing I've done just on two paragraphs alone, but I like the way you write, I really do. There's a rhythm to it (I'd expect nothing less from the Irish), and a translucent quality of the human psyche.

I've read your very first draft, and your writing has come on leaps and bounds.

Keep up the good work.  ;)

____________

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Hopefully final revision: opening: The Occasional Mistress [672 words]
« Reply #59 on: March 11, 2011, 07:09:50 AM »
Thanks for taking the time junel, fresh eyes are always welcome and you have seen some things that have passed me by.

The commemorative order of service is the piece of paper she is making dogeared, bending the corner/s backward and forward. Maybe:
Louise’s clammy hands fidgeted with the commemorative order of service, making an ugly dog-ear on the paper that confirmed she was a widow. ???

I was using strewn to convey a sort of practised flourish - I'll look at that again and the earth crumbliness/friability.

Rather than ignoring the sounds I might have her wincing with/at them.

Good pick up in the 'repeats' - I'm looking for nitty bits now, so thanks.

Off to make the fixes. ;) ;) ;) ;)