Author Topic: First Impressions (800 words quirky romance)  (Read 915 times)

Offline ireneconter

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First Impressions (800 words quirky romance)
« on: November 09, 2019, 12:02:45 PM »
1. High Level Feedback
2. Unclear sentences
3. What would you like to know about the characters?


First Impressions

HER
I’ve been staring at the fridge for five minutes: a Greek yogurt, a package of Norwegian smoked salmon, and a Fuji apple. I am going to have the umpteenth standing dinner in my kitchen, without plates and fork, to minimize the cleaning effort. My hand is nabbing the apple when I hear the buzz of my phone from the marble surface of the kitchen counter.
“Last minute offer! Do you want to have pizza with us tonight?” A message from Francesca pops on the screen.
My attention shifts from the fridge to the screen of my phone. I weight the effort required to evade my state of lethargy. My skin doesn’t feel ready to be unwounded from the pure cotton wrap of my pajamas that I am still wearing from the morning.
Have I even heard the sound of my voice today? I have not.
I should go out and have some social life.

HIM
I’ve been wandering around Westfield food court for five minutes: Chicken Teriyaki, Sushi, Tacos. I am going to have the umpteenth fast food dinner, sitting by myself on one of the greasy tables of the food court. I am in line at Chipotle when I hear the vibration of the phone in my jeans’ front pocket.
“Last minute offer! Do you want to have pizza with us tonight?” A message from Claudio pops on the screen.
Sure. I do want pizza with some company tonight. I am still wearing the same clothes from this morning, and I feel a little bit sweaty after a day of walking around San Francisco. Did I even stop and rest today? I did not.
I should join them for dinner and sit in the same place for a couple of hours.

HER
Francesca picked a modern pizzeria in Little Italy with minimalist interiors and no fake fresco paintings. Fake Italian restaurants are funny: do people really think we have those paintings in Italy? Forks and knives are inside peeled tomatoes cans, and recycled paper placemats are in front of each seat. I like it.
We are waiting for another person, Enrico, an Italian guy who moved to San Francisco a month ago, as I did.
He arrives a couple of minutes after me. His hair is honey blonde and has sprightly hazelnut eyes with curled eyelashes and slight strabismus of Venus. I think I saw him before, but I might be wrong because, since I moved to California, every Italian looks familiar.
While we are waiting for our pizzas, I told him my precooked story of what brought me to San Francisco. I am bored by hearing myself saying the same things over and over to any new person I meet.
The fragrance of baked bread and fresh basil announces our pizzas.

HIM
When I step into the restaurant, I see Claudio and Francesca sitting on a tall table with a brunette woman. I didn’t know that there was another person.
I reach them, moving my eyes from table to table to scan other people’s dishes. The pizzas’ appearances look promising: they have a thick irregular crust with small burnt bubbles and are seasoned with typical Italian flag ingredients.
While we are waiting for our pizzas, Sofia, Francesca’s friend, gives me a report of her last year, with a lot of details that I pretend to pay attention to. She laughs nervously from time to time, unveiling a line of regular white teeth that, I bet, I saw before.
The waiter arrives with our pizzas. Sofia asked me if I want to try a slice of her anchovies and capers one, audacious choice. I refuse: I don’t want my mouth to become a fishing boat.

HER
I pour spicy oil on my anchovies and capers pizza.
Ouch. The melted mozzarella burns my palate as I bite the first slice, but doesn’t prevent me from relishing the saltiness of the anchovies contrasting the sweetness of the tomato sauce. Is there anything better than pizza with anchovies?
At home, I keep thinking where I saw Enrico before, with no success.

HIM

“It was a pleasant dinner, after all.” I think on my Uber ride back home.
Facebook notifies me that I have "memories to look back today." It’s a photograph of four years ago, during a class of my master's degree. My friends and I are posing with puzzled faces looking at our notebooks. A brunette woman in the background catches my attention. I zoom in: it’s Sofia.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2019, 08:21:30 AM by ireneconter »

Offline PIJ1951

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Re: First Impressions (800 words quirky romance)
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2019, 08:47:18 AM »
I'm not sure what you mean by 'High Level Feedback' and your list of demands suggests we're being given a school assignment on how to critique but I'll let that pass.

Parts of this are good; nicely observed and indeed 'quirky'. Both main characters have a distinctive voice.
But other parts don't work so well. The mirroring was a little too artificial by the end. And the device of constantly switching between 'him' and 'her' a little too contrived - a case of style over content. This is a writing exercise rather than an attempt to tell us a story.

But regarding what you have written, some of your phrases are a little unconventional and I'm not sure whether it's a determined attempt on your part to be 'different' or simply an inability to express yourself clearly. I'm guessing from this extract that maybe Italian is your first language.

My hand is nabbing the apple = I grab the apple

My skin doesn’t feel ready to be unwound(ed) from the pure cotton wrap of my pajamas.

His hair is honey blonde and he has sprightly hazelnut eyes with curled eyelashes and slight strabismus of Venus
It reads as if his hair has hazelnut eyes - and most readers won't know what this expression means.

When I step into the restaurant, I see Claudio and Francesca sitting on at a tall table with a brunette woman. I didn’t know that there was another person.
I assume they are not sitting on top of the table. And he knows there is another person because he has just told us about her. Maybe 'I didn't realise someone else was joining us' makes more sense.

The pizzas’ appearances look promising = The pizzas look promising

She laughs nervously from time to time, unveiling a line of regular white teeth that, I bet, I saw before.
Rather odd - maybe he thinks he might have seen the same smile before.

And finally, your use of present tense narrative isn't consistent.
While we are waiting for our pizzas, I told him my precooked story of what brought me to San Francisco.

I don't care enough about Sofia or Enrico to want to know any more about them even though their story has barely begun. But I'm not a fan of romantic fiction, so that's my bad. Thanks for sharing.

Offline dnbrookswrites

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  • YA Fantasy writer; looking for beta readers!
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Re: First Impressions (800 words quirky romance)
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2019, 06:29:03 PM »
Hey ireneconter,

Thanks for sharing. Overall, I think the organizing element of your story is interesting. I especially like the repetitiveness of "her" and "him," such as "I did not." Those little details are funny. Some of your phrasing is also quite nice and adds humor, such as "I don’t want my mouth to become a fishing boat."

Other phrases, as mentioned by PIJ1951, are confusing, such as "My skin doesn’t feel ready to be unwounded from the pure cotton wrap of my pajamas that I am still wearing from the morning." I think there's absolutely room for lyrical writing, but this sentence seems a little much, given these are the characters' inner thoughts. I don't think people really talk like this (I think).

There also wasn't an arc, in terms of plot or character, for me. I understand this is supposed to be romantic comedy, but I didn't get that feel at all. This felt more surreal, and very dry, but in a sad kind of way. Nothing really happens in this excerpt. I didn't see any snap of romance between the characters, and that's fine if that's supposed to come later, but I didn't think anything of their interaction, either. I think giving one of them some kind of inner change, even if small, will be interesting enough to keep readers, well, reading. :)

Hope this helps! Good luck!!!

Devin
Devin Brooks
hello@dnbrookswrites.com
www.dnbrookswrites.com

Offline bboops23

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Re: First Impressions (800 words quirky romance)
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2019, 09:43:09 PM »
Hi ireneconter,

So my first thought is that the characters have incredibly similar voices. For example both characters use the phrase umpteenth, a phrase that I don't think I've heard anyone but my father use in the last 20 years, however, two characters are using it. You also use rather unconventional language which I'm guessing stems from English not being your first language. Examples: My hand is nabbing the apple --> Why not say 'I grabbed the apple.' My skin doesn’t feel ready to be unwounded from the pure cotton wrap of my pajamas --> Why not say 'I'm not ready to take off my comfortable cotton pajamas.'

You have some sentences that have so much excess detail. But then each little section of Him vs Her is just so lacking in any detail that it feels both overwritten and underwritten.

I feel like the concept could be really good. I think improving the strange phrasing will help a lot and then adding some additional detail to each section. I do really enjoy the back and forth.

I'd be interested to explore more about how they know each other and why they don't seem to remember each other. I'm a sucker for a good romance story. In terms of unclear sentences I'd say nothing is really unclear. It's just all phrased in a slightly bizarre way. I'd recommend just reading a bit more English language text to get a feel for some more natural phrasing.

In terms of what I'd like to know about the characters we don't yet have much to go off of for me to have questions. I wish you luck on your journey.

Offline jadynm1234567

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Re: First Impressions (800 words quirky romance)
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2019, 01:21:08 PM »
I understand switching first person views, and it's fun to read and write. I would just spend a little more time with each character so readers can get comfortable with them. For example, with the girl, is she homesick for Italy? You could weave that into her first paragraph, maybe by daydreaming about the focaccia or minestra. If you are Italian, it could be cool to see you point out the differences in Italian American vs actual Italian, especially with the pizza. Also, it seems like a lot of your story does revolve around food; why not detail that focus? It adds a unique element to your book. The descriptive sentences with character's thoughts and appearance can be a little much, but I really like them in some places, like when you're describing the pizza and its taste. I'd detail the characters' interacations more; I mean, this pizza place is the first place they meet! And if they are talking, why not use dialogue? It's engaging and will help separate thoughts and description from the action.
A few tips about dialogue if you're nervous to use it:

If there is a "she said" "he said" or "I said," you see a comma at the end of the sentence, not a period.

Ex. "I'm going," she said. (Notice that the she is not capitizlied, that's important. Also, always keep you comma in the quotes

If there is an action immediately after the sentence with no she said/he said, you use a period.

Ex. "I'm going." She turned away in frustration.

Also, in your last "Her" paragraph, you suddenly say "At home." I'd like to see a little more transition than that. I like your premise! You're doing a great job.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2019, 01:29:39 PM by jadynm1234567 »