Author Topic: First Draft of Opening  (Read 334 times)

Offline MJTennant

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First Draft of Opening
« on: April 03, 2019, 10:40:08 AM »
Hello all

Please could I take a bit of your precious time to have a sneak peek at this first draft of the opening of a short story I am writing for college?

Thanks so much in advance.

M J

ONE

perfect
adjective

Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.


     I once heard myself described as perfect.  I was locked in a cubicle in the girl’s loos at the time attempting to remove gum from my hair without succumbing to my friend’s advice to chop it out.  Cut it out and force it down Sam’s throat had been Joanne’s heated suggestion; Samantha being the girl who had spitefully put it there.  I hadn’t listened to her of course.  I was far too nice for that level of eye-watering retaliation. 
     I’d persistently picked at it during most of my lunch hour and had, eventually brushed it out, believing that the fruity essence of spearmint would never leave my fingers. 
     The memory still rolls my stomach.  I hate chewing gum, the smell, the texture, the way people look when grinding it between their teeth; the clacking sounds the jaw makes.  In simple terms, it’s revolting.
     Once my mission was accomplished I’d flushed the loo; I hadn’t been of course, hadn’t had time.  The bell had peeled to announce the start of period four and just before I pulled the catch back I heard her.  Samantha ‘bitch face’ Green.  The vehemence I’d felt at that moment had shocked me to the bone.  I was the nice girl, I didn’t do name calling, bad thoughts or grudges.  I always dealt with those negative moments in a different way using my own ‘special’ method of coping.
     I’d stepped back from the door to hide my feet and waited, adrenalin bursting in my chest like a mushroom cloud.
     “You do it because she’s perfect.”  The melodic voice of Natalie Cooper had chimed.
     If I’d been of the canine species, my ears would have pricked up for sure as the fizz of curiosity bubbled in my stomach.
     Samantha omitted the unladylike snort she was famous for before Natalie revealed the identity of ‘she’.
     “You know I’m right, that’s why you mess with her.  Abigail Williams is perfect… on the outside.  On the inside she’s just as fucked up as the rest of us."
     Even to this day I can still remember that waltzer-like dizzy feeling that swam around me like a shark’s fin.  The thought that this one girl I’d spoken to all of twice had my measure, my cup half empty.  It took me a moment to recover whilst I batted off that fear that someone, this someone had actually broken through my façade and witnessed the real me.  My insides had twisted as I momentarily blocked out Samantha’s reply, the fingernails digging into my palms dragging me back to reality.
     Their conversation was brief and held in between the turning on of taps and a blast from the over aggressive hand dryer but I’d gotten the gist and my alarm bells had stopped ringing.  Their comments revealed nothing out of the ordinary and could have been extracts from any of the self-help books about how to be a bitch.  I should know, I’d read most of them. 
     I’d smiled from my hiding place.  They didn’t know me, not the real me… the one with ‘secrets’.

Offline Dustin91

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Re: First Draft of Opening
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2019, 11:26:44 PM »
Hello MJ,

Here are my first impressions with this beginning:

Quote
     I once heard myself described as perfect.  I was locked in a cubicle in the girl’s loos at the time attempting to remove gum from my hair without succumbing to my friend’s advice to chop it out.  Cut it out and force it down Sam’s throat had been Joanne’s heated suggestion; Samantha (<-name change from Sam to Samantha tripped me up) being the girl who had spitefully put it there.  I hadn’t listened to her of course.  I was far too nice for that level of eye-watering (this didn't make sense to me) retaliation. 

     I’d persistently picked at it during most of my lunch hour and had, eventually brushed it out, believing that the fruity essence of spearmint would never leave my fingers. 

     The memory still rolls my stomach.  I hate chewing gum, the smell, the texture, the way people look when grinding it between their teeth; the clacking sounds the jaw makes.  In simple terms, it’s revolting. (This seems a strong reaction even given the circumstances. It gives the impression the narrator is mentally unsound. If that was the intent, then ignore this comment.)

     Once my mission was accomplished I’d flushed the loo; I hadn’t been of course, hadn’t had time. The bell had peeled to announce the start of period four and just before I pulled the catch back I heard her.  Samantha ‘bitch face’ Green.  The vehemence (I got the feeling you scoured the thesaurus to find this word. It felt out of place.)  I’d (I believe this is improper usage of past perfect tense) felt at that moment had shocked me to the bone.  I was the nice girl, I didn’t do name calling, bad thoughts or grudges.  I always dealt with those negative moments in a different way using my own ‘special’ method of coping. (It's clear you want us to perk up at this sentiment. I think you could give us a better hint.)

     I’d (Improper past perfect tense usage) stepped back from the door to hide my feet and waited, adrenaline bursting in my chest like a mushroom cloud.

     “You do it because she’s perfect.”  The melodic voice of Natalie Cooper had chimed. (You are trying to be writerly here. It rips me out of the story and reminds me that I am reading.)

     If I’d been of the canine species, my ears would have pricked up for sure as the fizz of curiosity bubbled in my stomach. (This is confusing and adds nothing.)

     Samantha omitted the unladylike snort she was famous for before Natalie revealed the identity of ‘she’. (This adds very little, if anything.)

     “You know I’m right, that’s why you mess with her.  Abigail Williams is perfect… on the outside.  On the inside she’s just as fucked up as the rest of us."

     Even to this day I can still remember that waltzer-like dizzy feeling that swam around me like a shark’s fin.  The thought that this one girl I’d spoken to all of twice had my measure, my cup half empty.  It took me a moment to recover whilst I batted off that fear that someone, this someone had actually broken through my façade and witnessed the real me.  My insides had twisted as I momentarily blocked out Samantha’s reply, the fingernails digging into my palms dragging me back to reality.

     Their conversation was brief and held in between the turning on of taps and a blast of air from the over aggressive hand dryer but I’d gotten the gist and my alarm bells had stopped ringing.  Their comments revealed nothing out of the ordinary and could have been extracts from any of the self-help books about how to be a bitch.  I should know, I’d read most of them. 

     I’d (Improper past perfect tense usage) smiled from my hiding place.  They didn’t know me, not the real me… the one with ‘secrets’. (This seems a rather lame attempt at creating suspense.)

It seems there is supposed to be something foreboding about the narrator, but I'm afraid you'll have to do more than put a couple words in quotes ('special', 'secrets') if you want us to care.

For what it's worth I'd be interested in reading a second draft once you've fixed this up a bit.

Hope this helps and thank you for sharing,
Dustin
« Last Edit: April 03, 2019, 11:30:42 PM by Dustin91 »

Offline MJTennant

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Re: First Draft of Opening
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2019, 04:25:39 AM »
Thank you so much Dustin91, your suggested changes and feedback is really appreciated.  Abigail is mentally unsound and has a variety of issues including self harm.  Her mother who is an alcoholic commits suicide (before the story starts).  This is the opening scene where Abigail is travelling to go and live with her father that she hasn't seen for 8 years.

Once again thank you.  I really do appreciate the time you have taken to read this and the guidance you have given me.  I find writing really hard and it doesn't come naturally to me but I love it more than anything.  I seem to have great ideas but then struggle to make them come alive in my writing.

M J x

Offline MJTennant

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Re: First Draft of Opening
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2019, 05:42:09 AM »
Thank you so much.  And thank you for saying that you wouldn't mind another look after my changes.  There is also a few extra paragraphs which I wrote last night.

M J

ONE

perfect
adjective

Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

     I once heard myself described as perfect.  I was locked in a cubicle in the girl’s loos at the time attempting to remove gum from my hair without succumbing to my friend’s advice to chop it out.  ‘Cut it out and force it down Samantha’s throat’ had been Joanne’s heated suggestion; Samantha being the girl who had spitefully put it there.  I hadn’t listened to her of course.  I was far too nice for that level of retaliation. 
     I had persistently picked at it during most of my lunch hour and had, eventually brushed it out, believing that the fruity essence of spearmint would never leave my fingers. 
     The memory still rolls my stomach.  I hate chewing gum, the smell, the texture, the way people look when grinding it between their teeth; the clacking sounds the jaw makes.  In simple terms, it’s revolting.
     Once my mission was accomplished I’d flushed the loo; I hadn’t been of course, hadn’t had time.  The bell had peeled to announce the start of period four and just before I pulled the catch back I heard her.  Samantha ‘bitch face’ Green.  The anger I had felt at that moment had shocked me to the bone.  I was the nice girl, I didn’t do name calling, bad thoughts or grudges.  I dealt with negative emotion in a different way, my coping style abhorrent to some but mine nonetheless and it worked for me.  I didn’t suffer from the anxiety of storing up negative emotions like so many other teenagers.  I released it; my scars a reminder of my survival.
     I remember tackling my temper by nipping myself, adrenaline bursting in my chest like a mushroom cloud.
     “You do it because she’s perfect.”  The voice of Natalie Cooper had chimed.
     I leaned further towards the door of the cubicle, straining to hear who they were talking about.
     “You know I’m right, that’s why you mess with her.  Abigail Williams is perfect… on the outside.  On the inside she’s just as fucked up as the rest of us."
     Even to this day I can still remember that waltzer-like dizzy feeling of panic that swam around me like a shark’s fin.  The thought that this one girl I’d spoken to all of twice had my measure, my cup half empty.  It took me a moment to recover whilst I batted off that fear that someone had actually broken through my façade and witnessed the real me.  My insides had twisted as I momentarily blocked out Samantha’s reply, the fingernails digging into my palms dragging me back to reality. 
     Their conversation was brief and partially distorted by the turning on of taps and a blast of air from the hand dryer but I’d gotten the gist and my alarm bells stopped ringing.  Their comments revealed nothing out of the ordinary.  Every vindictive word could have been an extract from any of the self-help books on how to be a bitch.  I should know, I’d read most of them. 
     Smiling from my hiding place, awareness had pooled into me, my perfect shell still intact.  I was untouchable.
     I didn’t know then but that would be the last time I’d hear Samantha Green’s acrid voice.  The last time I would be bullied for being too pretty, too nice… perfect.
     I once read that to banish imperfection is to destroy expression which is exactly what I wanted to achieve.  I had built up my polished veneer brick by brick and felt safe behind the barrier of perfection I had created.  My true feelings effectively protected.
     ‘Just because you’re beautiful, don’t think it will do you any favours in the real world’ my mother once lectured, her own world being somewhere at the bottom of the vodka bottle she’d thrashed around to highlight her point.  ‘It’s more likely to cause you problems.’  She also ate gum, loads of the stuff, chewed it constantly in a poor attempt to control her cravings.

Offline Dustin91

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Re: First Draft of Opening
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2019, 09:13:29 PM »
Hi MJ,

I think this reads better than the first draft, but I'm afraid there are bigger, more fundamental problems with this excerpt whose only remedies are more reading and more writing. I could spend another hour picking this new version apart line-by-line, and you could run through it again in ten minutes and maybe you'd have a better version than before. But did you learn anything? Because I believe there is a lesson to be learned in every critique, and hastily making edits for the sake of spitting out another draft for everyone else to fix up would be missing the point.

So my advice this time around is to let your work stew for a while. Take a short break from it and come back with a fresh mind. Write something else in the meantime. Also, I recommend waiting for comments from other members before changing too much too quickly. There are some very keen eyes wandering this site, and I think it would be in your best interest to hold out for as much perspective you can get.

When posting for review, I wouldn't recommend sharing anything before a 3rd draft. It's quite easy to spot rushed writing. Like, too easy. You'll find the critiques you receive will be more thoughtful and helpful when the critters can tell you've put forth your best effort.

Dustin


Offline MJTennant

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Re: First Draft of Opening
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2019, 04:46:03 AM »
Thank you.

M J