Author Topic: Opening Scene in a Short Story - 284 words  (Read 2297 times)

Offline Gayle

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Opening Scene in a Short Story - 284 words
« on: February 22, 2013, 12:09:51 PM »
Since this scene sets the basis for the rest of the events in the story, I want to make sure it's solid before I continue with the rest of the piece. There are a couple things I'm specifically concerned about in this scene:
1. Are the relationships between David, Michael, Sophie and Christa clear? Is it obvious who the siblings are and who the friend is?
2. Does the dialogue sound believable?



“The secret he keeps from himself.”

Sophie started at Michael’s sudden remark. She had been contemplating the picture of David’s sister, thinking that she was alone in the sitting room. Now she couldn’t help wondering how long Michael had been standing there, watching her.  The thought made her uneasy, so she pushed it from her mind, “what do you mean?”

“Your resemblance to our sister: it’s really quite striking. Not that he’ll ever admit it.” He held out a glass of wine for her to take.
She accepted the glass of wine, but she couldn’t accept his remarks quite so easily. It was true that there was a certain superficial resemblance between her and Christa, but she felt it was far less “striking” than Michael seemed to think. Although the two women had the same eye and hair colour, there were variations in their facial features. They certainly could’ve passed for sisters, but not twins. “Maybe there’s nothing for him to admit. Maybe your observation skills have made you aware of a similarity between Christa and I that no one else sees.” She paused, and wondered briefly if she was going too far before turning the tables on Michael anyway, “Or maybe you just want to see a resemblance that isn’t there.” She tried to hide a mischievous smile behind her wine glass as she took a sip.

Michael looked startled for moment, and Sophie flinched in regret. “Damn my smart mouth,” she thought. She was always saying one thing too much, and unintentionally offending people. But Michael recovered quickly and offered her a reconciliatory smile. “I can see why David likes you. He enjoys a good debate. Come on, dinner ’s almost ready.”
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hillwalker3000

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Re: Opening Scene in a Short Story - 284 words
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2013, 01:45:48 PM »

For an opening scene I found it unnecessarily confusing. The line of dialogue seems suspended in the air - not addressed to anyone or answering a question. Nor is it a particularly arresting line. I'm still no clearer who Michael is talking about. Is it David? or their father?

In the next two sentences we are abruptly introduced to four characters: Sophie, Michael, David and David's sister. But there's too much to absorb so early in the plot in my opinion. And isn't David's sister also Michael's sister (assuming Sophie is the 'friend')? If there's a suggestion that they all share the same father is David the one who's denying it by keeping it a secret?

Help!

If you changed the opening line to something like:
“One of X's little secrets.”
we might get a clearer idea of what's happening (at least we would know who X is supposed to be).
The dialogue is a little stilted - perhaps more so because I still don't know who the 'he' is they are talking about. Nor do I understand why you tell us Sophie has a smart mouth. I'm obviously missing the point here, which perhaps answers your question. You have the plot planned out in your mind but so far you haven't managed to translate it coherently enough onto the page.

H3K

Offline Kmarko

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Re: Opening Scene in a Short Story - 284 words
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2013, 02:12:20 PM »
To answer your two questions, I easily understood the relationships, and thought the dialogue was believable.  I do think you could ease into things a bit more though.

Max_with_word_processor

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Re: Opening Scene in a Short Story - 284 words
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2013, 02:15:42 PM »
It seems very convoluted to me. I would have to study it and draw a family-tree diagram to figure out who is who.

The text doesn't feel natural to me either. I guess Micheal crept into the room, and apparently gave her wine. The setting and situation is not obvious. I can't even gauge their age or time setting. The sitting room and language makes it feel like old people reminiscing.

By the end, I don't know why they were debating resemblance to the person in a picture, or why someone would deny it.

I don't know your characters or how you want them to talk, but a line like, "She has a big nose like you," would sound more natural. And target the secret head-on, because I'm guessing that is where this is going.



Offline Matt Walker

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Re: Opening Scene in a Short Story - 284 words
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2013, 02:41:42 PM »
To me you're introducing too many characters too quickly. If Sophie is your protagonist you need to introduce her properly first. They're all kind of flat and one-dimensional at the moment. We don't know anything about them, other than some of them are related somehow - I've read it a few times and am still not completely sure:

Sophie had been contemplating the picture of David’s sister.

But then Michael says “Your resemblance to our sister" - as if David, Michael and Christa are all siblings? (But then why does Sophie only refer to her as David's sister and not Michael and David's sister?)

So, Sophie is trying to flirt with Michael? But David likes her? It's all too confusing for me, I'm afraid. And also, I wouldn't have thought this bit of talking is enough to hook readers.

Also, "Damn my smart mouth,” she thought - thoughts don't need quotes, and you certainly shouldn't use the same sort of quotes that you use for dialogue! More confusion!

Over all, Gayle, I think the writing is tight, but the scene is too mundane and complicated.
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Offline Taylor

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Re: Opening Scene in a Short Story - 284 words
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2013, 06:25:49 PM »
The opening sentence is a bit cryptic, Gayle, even though we learn later that Micheal's seems to be referring to their sister.

I like the second paragraph. It's clear and introduces some conflict.

The third paragraph was hard for me to follow despite Micheal's remark and needs, I think, to be recast so it's clear who's related to whom.
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Offline wanderer

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Re: Opening Scene in a Short Story - 284 words
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2013, 08:41:35 PM »
Well Gayle, I thought it was difficult to figure out the characters and their relationships. Some of the dialogue didn't seem to flow naturally and was rough. Seems like too much information presented in a compact fashion. JMO

Offline Gayle

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Re: Opening Scene in a Short Story - 284 words
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2013, 10:35:02 PM »
Thanks for your thoughts everyone. All of you seem to be saying the same thing: I've dropped the reader into the story too abruptly and without enough clarification as to the characters or their purpose for being where they are.
"I was born of writing. Before that, there was only a play of mirrors." - Jean Paul Sartre

Lin

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Re: Opening Scene in a Short Story - 284 words
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2013, 05:15:53 AM »
Please see the attachment on the green paper clip below

Lin x

Offline IslandGirl

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Re: Opening Scene in a Short Story - 284 words
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2013, 09:00:55 PM »
I agree with the above comments. This is an interesting exchange, and I am left wanting to know more about these characters and their background, but it is too abrupt for a beginning. Perhaps with some tweaking it could work well though!