Author Topic: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue  (Read 2369 times)

Offline Yopie

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1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« on: January 07, 2017, 04:54:16 PM »
Hello everyone! It would be a great deal of help for me, if you guys could help me out by just reading the simple conversation and telling me what you think and how I could improve it. It is an early part of a novel I'm writing. The main character "Rose" is having a humorous morning conversation with her nanny "Ms. Grace."

[Hi Yopie. You won't be able to edit till you reach 50 posts so I added space between each paragraph for you. You will get more members reading it without a huge single wall of text to navigate. Despite the added spaces, you need to take a closer look at your dialogue formatting, POV changes and placement of open quote marks at the end of some. Good luck.  AQ-Global Moderator]

I managed to sneak in to my bedroom window unnoticed. Slumping down on my bed, I breathed unevenly, my chest rising and falling, I closed my eyes and sank in to my pillow.

„Good morning!” called a monotonous voice and as a panicing reflex I threw the blanket over myself – I wasn’t wearing my night gown. “Goodness gracious” sighed Ms. Grace Wellington, my nanny, as she stepped in to my room. “Wake up, bud, wake up!”

I stirred but made no attempt to get up. “Good morning, Ms Wellington.” I muttered with feigned tiredness.

“We are a bit late” she explained, “ I honestly thought you would be up already, but when you did not come for breakfast – “ She hovered around the bed, with excitement I couldn’t place and  I really didn’t want to find out either. “C’mon we must hurry,” she urged.

“Fine.” I muttered, “ I’ll go down for breakfast,in a minute.”

“No, young bud, not today. I must help you dress properly, fancy dress, do your hair, help you with – “ She pulled the blanket off me with force and good intentions, but when she saw my clothes a familiar realisation flashed across her middle aged face. “My g o d.” she shrieked. “Heaven forbid!” I rolled my eyes. She was just being dramatic. Ms. Grace and I shared a unique relationship due to the great humour she had. Before coming to work with us, she had been an unsuccessful actress, who was cheated by the cruel factors of reality.  And so the family home of the Hogan household became her stage and I her audience and co-actress. One of the only nannies I tolerated as a child. The rest of them I was sure to chase away. “ A disgrace…” Okay, so she was not intentionally funny. It was a natural reaction from a classy lady like herself ; to have a distinct lack of apprehension of the ways of tomboys. I never the less found her reactions comical.

“Why the panic?” I asked innocently and bated my eye lashes at her.

“Do not be smart with me young lady!” she warned, clearly displeased and shook her head in disapproval. “Running, running. At such an hour and at such an age!” she walked across the room. “ You should have learn to be more of a lady already! What would your father say, if he knew?” she opened my wardrobe “He would have my head…”

“Do not tell him, then.” I shrugged simply and slipped out of bed.

“Smart again!” she snapped this time more sharply. “I know your ways, bud, you have been at this for years, now. When will you ever grow? It is dangerous out there, the old creatures –“

“Mythical” I coughed under my breath and she sent me a look.

 “Laugh while you can,” she muttered and then turned around dejected, and silently pulled out a lilac dress from the wardrobe. “These are things you should be wearing at your age,” she murmured and I figured I had gone too far in my teasing. Adults were very sensitive when it came to their so called ‘old creatures’.

“It looks gorgeous.” I offered some fake enthusiasm as a term of appeasement.

“Does it not?” she asked rhetorically and I knew I was forgiven. “You will look lovely, young and marriable, as you should –“

“Ms. Wellington!” I butted in “the audacity” I mouthed in a dramatic manner with faked puffed up pride.

She stiffened momentarily, but then with a stubborn tone said “ You know I am only saying what your mama would” and gave me a meaningful look.

I don’t know what she would say, I never got to meet her. She had died while giving birth to me. Not being my favourite topic, I let it go and waved my hands in the air. “Would mom, want me to wash off all this sweat” I pointed to my body “ before I put on that lilac thing?” I echoed her rhetorical tone. She caught the string of thought.

“The whole world, would want you to wash right now.”

I bounced to the bathroom and softly closed the door. I could hear, Mrs. Grace mumbling “Wash off some of that childishness too.” I was glad her humour was as sharp as ever, but the events unfolding in the day were worrying.

“What’s with all the fuss, Ms Grace? Why the dress?”

“You have been invited to the Summer Ball. Your father will be there too along with others highly socially ranked.”

“Ah no.” I sighed, while washing my teeth. “Do I have to?”

“Of course you do!” she replied “All the young ladies from the city will be attending. And I am sure that includes your friends from school as well. I am sure it will be fun.”

Fun, huh?  Unfortunately, not everyone shared my humour, and my previous attempts to socialise did not end up being fruitful. I winced at the memory.

 I simply could not meet the high expectations of the distinguished adult ladies and was shunned by my age group for the same reason. I was not ‘classy’ enough.

I let cold water run over my hands and then splashed it on my face. I was so not looking forward to this.

By the time, I finished cleaning myself up, Ms. Grace had found a pair of suitable shoes and fancy hair pins to match my outfit. She also opened all the curtains so that the sunlight illuminated the cosy little room, no signs of the morning mist, and had tidied up my bed as well as anything else that she found in need of tiding. I vaguely noted that my desk was less cluttered and that my diary was placed neatly on the shelf. I was sure I had hidden it below my bed the other day, but that was Ms. Grace for you! Nothing could escape her organising.

I easily stepped in to the dress and she helped to tie it nicely in the back. Sitting down in front of a mirror, she grabbed a brush and began to work away at my untameable auburn curls.
  
“At what time does the gathering begin?” I asked curiously, I could not remember if I had gone last year or had managed to get myself off the hook.

“ Around 4 pm,” she answered coolly.

I was flabbergasted. “ Why do I have to get ready so early, in the morning, if it does not start until four?” I whined.

“Because,” she exaggerated the word for impact, “you need practice, bud, wearing these clothes and maintaining …” she smiled teasingly “ dignity.”

I raised my eyebrows theatrically as a comeback “ You don’t say … ?“ But she had utterly defeated me there. And we both knew it.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2017, 06:28:27 PM by Artemis Quark »

Offline Arkie

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Re: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2017, 05:32:15 PM »
I don't have a whole lot of time to do a review at present, but I'll be back this evening to do a full analysis for you, if you like! I've got a few suggestions perking about making the piece much more visual, and improving the dialogue exchange between the two characters.

Offline Gyppo

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Re: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2017, 07:06:29 PM »
Can I ask a question?  In what time period is this set?  The 'old creatures' suggests a superstition or mythology from maybe as far back as Victorian times.  But the morning run seems more modern.

If the first then the Ms is totally out of place.  Nannies would have been either Miss or Mrs, with the latter still applied even if the lady was widowed.

A description of Rose's running clothes, or Ms grace's horror as she comments on them, would help to flesh out Rose as a character.

I kind of like her, and the semi-respectable failed actress Ms Grace, but I still don't have a clear picture of them.

Gyppo
« Last Edit: January 07, 2017, 07:09:22 PM by Gyppo »
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline Arkie

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Re: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2017, 08:39:53 PM »
I'm going to post this in two parts, because it got long. I love dialogue, and tend to go overboard with it. Take what you can use.
I broke down this scene into components. I'm going to start with the summary, scene purpose, characters, and then go on to setting, action, manner and cause.

 Summary: The girl, Bud, hiding after a morning run, is berated by her nanny for not being more ladylike, and then threatened with a social event. The idea is a little clichéd (high born girl hates idea of marriage and would rather run through the mist with her long hair flapping in the wind) but workable, entirely workable. Because there are many, many reasons for high-born girls to hate social convention.)

Scene-this is a set-up scene, preparing the reader for further confrontation regarding the upcoming event. As such, it doesn’t have a lot of plot potential, but you need to set it up for plot. If a big set-piece of the story is going to be this party, really ratchet up the party bit. If the next big scene is going to be abduction by a mythical creature, amp up the mythical creature bit. I’m guessing party is the next big one from the focus on the preparation.

Characters-Bud, a tomboy who likes to go running in the morning, and her proper nanny.
Summary: The focus of the scene is on characterization through dialogue, so I’ll start here. Bud’s voice is distinguished from her nanny’s voice, but both voices seem a little stilted and formal in the last part of the conversation, and it feels awkward to go from a nanny saying, “No, young Bud, I must help you dress properly...” to an “Oh, my God!” It doesn’t sound right. Bud does some of the same thing when she’s formally asking, “At what time does the gathering begin?” It’s not that the formal is wrong and the flippant is right, it’s that the combination of the two is awkward for me.
 
Dialogue is not speech as much as it is a form of storytelling. You don’t want question/answer sessions unless they complicate things. So this conversation needs a lot more tension between the characters and you need to oblique it. By keeping the dialogue from ever answering a question in a straightforward manner, you increase tension in dialogue.

As an example:

“Smart again!” she snapped this time more sharply. “I know your ways, bud, you have been at this for years, now. When will you ever grow? It is dangerous out there, the old creatures –“
(Smart, are we? How many times have I warned you, the old creatures—)

“Mythical” I coughed under my breath and she sent me a look.
(When was the last time you saw a centaur? A satyr? I’ve never seen one.)

 “Laugh while you can,” she muttered and then turned around dejected, and silently pulled out a lilac dress from the wardrobe. “These are things you should be wearing at your age,” she murmured and I figured I had gone too far in my teasing. Adults were very sensitive when it came to their so called ‘old creatures’.
(She turned away, her back as straight as a fireplace poker, and I wondered if I’d gone too far. She could be sensitive about her “old creatures”. She opened my wardrobe, and when she turned back to me she was holding a lilac dress, and there was no trace of the apprehension I’d seen on her face.
“This will do.” She smoothed the satin fabric over her arm.
“Do for what?”
“This is what you will wear. Tonight. The party? It’s a beautiful dress, Bud.”)

 “It looks gorgeous.” I offered some fake enthusiasm as a term of appeasement.

(“Gorgeous. Just right for my great-aunt’s funeral.”
“None of your lip, young lady.”
She knew me too well to be impressed with my sarcasm. I got out of bed. Protesting wasn’t going to do me any favors now.)

Play around with it. But the idea is that nobody gets what they want with dialogue. Like any other storytelling technique you want to increase the tension, create conflict, provide characterization and convey a plot within the words spoken by the characters. The more mundane the scene—and getting up and getting dressed aren’t very exciting most of the time—you need to really punch up the conflict between the characters involved.

Also, watch your WIOS (words instead of said). Bud mutters too much, and at one point, she talks too articulately while brushing her teeth. Use said, or use an action tag. And even too many action tags get old when there are only two characters talking. But anywhere  you used something other than the word said, go back and put in said. Then use something else. But too many offered, announced, muttered, snapped—it gets old. And you lose a great opportunity to get more visual by providing motion, or a characters internal reaction.

Offline Arkie

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Re: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2017, 08:42:28 PM »
Part 2:
Setting-Bud’s room
 You have a description of Bud’s room at one point in the narrative, but why not show some of it at the beginning where Bud tumbles through the window into the bed. Most especially if Bud is coming in from her run having been started by something in that mist, you can offer the room as a sanctuary of normal that both comforts and constrains her. You can offer color and textures—the way the quilts feel as she burrows under them. Contrast that with the way the mist was cold on her skin. The brightness of yellows and greens, or soothing things like the blue of the dress also could act as reminders of what is normal and safe, allowing Bud to feel the difference between how she feels when she’s running in her dangerous world and how the safe world is tighter and less open. That dress can be her straightjacket. You can have her comment on the way it pinches, or how much she hates the fabric that scratches her. Contrast it with what Bud is wearing when she hides under her covers, and have the nanny fuss about what she is wearing (if anything at all. A lady running naked in the mist has enormous appeal to me for some reason....)

Action-Bud is basically getting up and getting dressed, so minimal action, but the circumstances provide some conflict.
Because the situation is mundane, you need all the conflict between the pair you can get. Try to get into Bud’s feelings without saying. Far better, if she is indeed comfortable with her nanny, to have her talk about it.

Manner-Bud doesn’t want to get dressed or go to the party.
Why? It’s not enough that she’s a tomboy who doesn’t want to grow up. There needs to be a very good reason that Bud has a real problem with this party. Points if you can show her inner conflict here. Nanny drags Mom into it. Bud has always had this thrown at her, and she wishes that she knew her mother well enough to hope that her mother would have understood. No, this was Dad’s idea. Or uncle’s idea. You get the idea. Give Bud a deeply personal reason, beyond the ordinary, to not want to be at this party.

Time-morning
What kind of morning? It was misty. Where was she running? Can she see that from the window for me? Can she comment internally on whether she did see something out there that wasn’t right? Can she tell me how ordinary everything looks now from on high, from normal?

Cause-Bud must get up and get dressed because there is an upcoming social event that she has to prepare for.
I think you need to do more about telling why Nanny thinks this is such an important event for Bud, and also why Bud would rather be horsewhipped than go. Nanny loves Bud. You need to do more to convey that the way they can tease and go at each other stems from deep love, and that Nanny really does want the best for Bud, as she sees it. It sounds like she’s simply enforcing rules, making Bud obey, but I’d love to see that she does it completely out of her deep love for the girl, and that Bud, fighting down her fear and distaste for the event, will conquer her own emotions because she wouldn’t let her Nanny down for the world.


Okay. Long-winded. Hopefully there is something useful in that mess. I find my thoughts a little jumbled tonight. I blame the cold weather and a nasty plot problem in my own story that is tearing my little brain up right now.



Offline Yopie

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Re: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2017, 03:53:33 PM »
Thank you Gyppo and Arkie for replying. I definitely take all your comments on board. Thank you so much!

Offline A_Silver

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Re: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2017, 10:18:10 PM »
Lots of great feedback from Arkie and Gyppo. I'll be brief! The following is what stood out to me:

In my experience, the nickname bud is usually short for buddy and has more of a masculine connotation. If this is a play on "Rosebud" that would be great, but perhaps a little insert there just to call it out would be helpful?

I don't know if I believe that getting ready so early would help her practice and maintain dignity. She seems so young that she might get her clothes dirty before the event.

There is a lot of "telling" regarding the bit about their sense of humor. The word "humour" was mentioned 3+ times, and I feel like with a little bit of tightening on the dialogue, it would convey their disposition and playfulness without needed to be reminded that yes they are indeed funny/humorous.

It's a brief scene, but it would be good to get a better sense of what the plot might be.

Just my opinion of course. :)

Overall, it's an interesting exchange. I like Miss Grace!

Offline Emery

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Re: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2017, 10:29:51 AM »
A Regency fantasy. I don't normally read fantasy and especially not regency fantasy, but I'll give it go.

I had a hard time nailing down the age of Rose and the date of the piece. Is it true regency? Is this some complete fantasy world? And was Rose actually running? I assumed something much more nefarious from the opening and then had to wonder if 'running' was a euphemism for 'running around' or was it straight up exercise/play. And if so, does that make Rose preteen? Tween? And now she's getting ready for a ball?

Again, I'm not well versed in the genre, but I imagine this scene and dialogue to be a cliché within it. Maybe you can get away with certain scenes given genre expectations, but maybe look to make this one sing a little more.

Pay attention to mechanics. Nothing detracts more than poor punctuation, which may just be a formatting issue and I've been guilty, too.

I wonder if there isn't a better place to start your story. You have a clichéd scene with a clichéd, the protagonist waking to start her day, opening. And then, there really isn't any conflict. At the end of the scene, Rose is in the exact same place. This is not potentially different than any other day, so why start here? I understand wanting to set scene and background, but this can be worked in somewhere else.

Just an opinion

Good luck

All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

hillwalker3000

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Re: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2017, 11:30:52 AM »
The main character "Rose" is having a humorous morning conversation with her nanny "Ms. Grace."

I'm not sure about your assertion that this is a 'humorous morning conversation' since humour is always subjective. Whether your intended audience finds it humorous will be another matter and for now you're best concentrating on effective narrative and plot rather than attempting to be funny.

With that in mind I'll comment as I read through if I may:

I managed to sneak in to my bedroom window unnoticed. Slumping down on my bed, I breathed unevenly, my chest rising and falling, I closed my eyes and sank in to my pillow.

Did you mean 'into' or 'in to'? I assume she sank 'into' her pillow, but sneaking 'in to' or 'into' a window makes no sense. If she climbed into the bedroom through her window that needs making clear right from the start. For all we know she was already inside her bedroom when she sneaked to the window.

How she knows she was 'unnoticed' is another matter - she can't possibly know this for sure so it's best left out. Maybe you could suggest the time of day this takes place by something along the lines of I managed to sneak in through my bedroom window without waking the household.
 
But then immediately we have someone address her so what did I miss? Your strange punctuation („Good morning!”) might be a technical glitch but it's very distracting. Conventional speech marks are simply ("Good morning!")

She wasn't wearing a nightgown so I assumed she was naked. And the conversation seems to have begun outside the room then continued inside it. Again it's confusing. And calling her 'bud' as others have pointed out implies the nanny is addressing a male friend of her own age (short for 'buddy'). It also makes the piece read contemporary NYC when I'm assume it's set somewhere else in some dim and distant past. Yet the heroine later refers to her dead mother as 'mom' so it's impossible to work out the setting.

“We are a bit late” she explained, Who's 'we' and why is she explaining this? “ I honestly thought you would be up already, but when you did not come for breakfast – “ She hovered around the bed, with excitement I couldn’t place and  I really didn’t want to find out either. “C’mon we must hurry,” she urged.

Breaking up the dialogue with so much choreography isn’t really working either unless you let in the reader on the secret. Presumably she's excited because of the Ball but since it's breakfast time it reads a bit strange. My advice, cut to the chase and get rid of the entire getting-out-of-bed scene. So many newbies start a story or chapter with this type of opening scene, but unless it's extraordinary in some way it reads clichéd beyond belief.

“No, young bud, not today. I must help you dress properly, fancy dress, do your hair, help you with – “ She pulled the blanket off me with force and good intentions, but when she saw my clothes a familiar realisation flashed across her middle aged face. “My g o d.” she shrieked. “Heaven forbid!”

That's when it dawned on me that the picture I'd created in my own head on the information you provided earlier was wrong. The narrator wasn't naked after all And she has to be helped to get dressed (so how old is she?) yet she was wearing clothes so maybe she'd been out on the town the previous night, got in after her curfew and was still wearing her party gear. Either way - a heroine with a nanny who dresses her didn't fill me with an urge to continue reading further.

I'm guessing this is 'Princess Diaries' or 'Mary Poppins' territory. Not something I'd read by choice which is why I skimmed the rest. The narrator has been running - then sneaked back indoors and climbed into bed while in her tracksuit. A sure way to get found out.

For the record, the dialogue goes on way too long. You also press the pause button to explain about the loss of her mother etc. which is a little clunky. In a nutshell Nanny tells tomboy to get her a$$ out of bed. Tomboy would prefer not to. . . There's mild humour at best during these exchanges then she refers to the 'old creatures' that she's not allowed to mix with.

You presumably know what's going on but I fear the majority of your readers will have got lost long before reaching the end of this section (and presumably picked up something else to read along the way).

H3K

Offline Yopie

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Re: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2017, 02:07:43 PM »

To answer the question of Gyppoo, it is set in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Sorry for not making that more clear earlier. Also I received some comments as to it being a bad beginning, which I completely agree with and to let you know it is not the beginning at all. You as the reader are merely getting a scene cut out from a story. So there are many things unclear. I apologise for the inconveniences.
For me it has been a great laugh, reading the critiques. Showing me how ridiculous some things sound, is something I greatly appreciate. Thankfully I can laugh at my own idiocities. How some of you considered she was naked, was lol, ;D although completely my fault.  :D

A_Silver Thank you. I agree "bud" does sound too male-ish and yes it does come from the flower bud imagery. I figured if I called the story "The Rose bud" then the reader would get it. I am not sure if I am going to keep that nickname or not.

Emery  Literal running, absolutely! She is a tomboy she likes to jog to keep fit. Thank you for helping me out. I never would have taken a non literal view on that. I'll keep it in mind.

Yeah, so again, sorry about the age confusion as well and all. She is 16.

hillwalker3000 Thank you for your in depth comment even though it's not your type of story. The scene is undoubtadly cliche so that is why I need it to be a bit more, and humour goes a long way.  But I guess I'll have to see if I can actually put it off on the long run...
I have re rewritten the scene since the suggestions, and the second is less humorous but better written. Ah the struggle!  ::)
Actually she sneaked in the bedroom window. : )  I never thought of the unnoticed thing! wow. So true.
The strange punctuation is a glitch. It annoys me too.  :'(
It is too modern and too old fashioned all mixed up and unclear. Thank you. I will fix that right away.

Everyone, a pleasure to work with you. You are a great bunch.  ;)

Offline Arkie

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Re: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2017, 02:27:29 PM »
Quote
How some of you considered she was naked, was lol, Grin although completely my fault.

Oh, rats. And here I was hoping for something really scandalous. ;D

Offline Emery

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Re: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2017, 02:51:39 PM »
Here's a pet peeve of mine with historical fiction. The date, especially in with modern history, matters. Late 1800s to early 1900s is vague and I'm assuming something you may have procured from the story you want to write in your head. For example, let's say you have two decades in either direction. 1880s to the 1920s. There is a vast difference in historical events and attitudes. In 1881 Sitting Bull srruenders, 1882 Jesse James is shot. 1920s people are recovering for WWI and are experiencing an economic boom. Women can now vote. It's the same as me saying my story is set somewhere between 1960 and 2000.

And here is the danger of historical fiction. You're entering into a contract of sorts with the reader. If I read a historical or period fiction piece, the details of said period need to be correct. And so if I spot something off, the confidence I had in the author is gone.
All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Offline Yopie

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Re: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2017, 03:55:04 PM »
#Emery I am sending you PM. Thank for pointing that out. It is actaully a big issue for me.

Offline Markopolo

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Re: 1200 words. Easy english. Humour. Dialogue
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2017, 09:56:31 AM »
 
Hey Yopie.

Just a few points.

I'm sure you meant to write "in through" as opposed to "in to my bedroom window" easy fixed.

“We are a bit late” she explained, “ I honestly thought you would be up already, but when you did not come for breakfast – “ You need a comma after late.

“Fine.” I muttered, “ I’ll go down for breakfast,in a minute.”  - no need for the comma.

“My g o d.” she shrieked. - If she is meant to be shrieking the words My god then you must put a comma after God. If she is shrieking after saying the words my God the it is a full stop but the S in she must be capital. I learnt this recently myself.

You should have learn to be more of a lady already! What would your father say, if he knew?” - This should be Learned.


I think you need to go back over this piece and make sure it's all correct and presentable. There are small letters at the beginning of sentences like below and other issues.

 (You should have learn to be more of a lady already! What would your father say, if he knew?” she opened my wardrobe “He would have my head…”

You must make sure there is either a comma or a full stop at the end of your speech quotes. There are loads with nothing like this one - “Would mom, want me to wash off all this sweat” I pointed to my body

Hopefully some of the stuff I have said helps. Don't let anything put you off writing if it's what you want to do. Learn from what the guy's on here tell you and it will be all good.

MP