Tuesday, May 05, 2009

New Beginning 634

"Dorlee! Get to work, ye slattern!"

"I been working, Mam." Dorlee finished hauling the bucket from the well, steadying the crank with her bad arm as she reached for the bucket handle with her true hand to lift it off the hook. It was awkward and some of the water slopped over, wetting her thigh.

"Don't sass me, missy, or I'll blister that lazy hide of yourn."

Dorlee scowled as she bent to hook the yoke to the bucket. "No ma'am. Sorry."

Mam waved her apron at a crow landed near her pie on the half door's ledge, her foul temper finding something else to attack. "Gowway, ye mobbin! Scat! Our dinner's not yourn, ye hear?"

"If you brung it into the creamery it'd both cool and be left alone," the girl muttered as she settled the wood across her shoulders before straightening her knees to take the weight. She started moving, both hands on the yoke to steady it, her short arm with its half hand just able to grasp and steady the left side as she trudged up the slope to the big stone trough. This was her chore. Her younger brothers milked the goats and sheep, she hauled the water because her deformed hand made milking slow and awkward. Besides, Da said, Dorlee's bad luck soured the milk. Dorlee thought he didn't mind making her work their garden and root fields so much, no bad luck there for that foodstuff--or brewing, or making cheese, or especially weaving by smoky peat fire until her fingers bled and she could barely see for the headache. They sold her weaving and her lace for enough, no bad luck there, either.

Dorlee slowly lowered the heavy buckets to the ground, released her weary frame from the yoke and eased the crick in her back. "Carbon Credits be damned," she cursed. "Tomorrow I'm turning the machines back on."

Opening: Writtenwyrdd.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

The grass tufted just before the trough, and Dorlee tripped.

"Watch where yourn been going, missy-mobbin!" A leprechaun leaped from the tangled turf, nursing his bruised nose.

"Sorry," said Dorlee again, not really feeling it. It was nice to be on the dishing-out end for once. But the leprechaun wasn't listening.

"Yourn the first person I been met with no bad luck!" he said. "Wouldn't ye know it. Fine, here's me pot 'o gold."

For the first time in her life, Dorlee smiled. Five minutes later, Mam had faceful of hot pie, Da was dripping from a bucket of water to the head, and Dorlee was registering Slatterns R Us at the patent office.

After all, every Fortune 500 company has to start out somewhere.


At that wasn't even taking into account the hours she spent gathering nuts and berries, her secretarial work, the extra income from her seasonal tax consulting, the successful web design business --


"Coming, Mam!" Dorlee gritted her teeth as she hoisted the buckets up onto the stone lip. Yes, it had been a mistake to tell Da when she had first realized she only needed two hours of sleep a night.

--Sarah from Hawthorne

Evil Editor said...

If her deformed hand makes it awkward just to milk a goat, it's hard to believe she's any good at weaving lace.

If this is a novel, the dialect is going to get old, possibly just for me.

I'd get rid of "for that foodstuff." We get the food connection and this sounds more like agri-tech lingo than Dorlee.

Anonymous said...

The dialect got old by the 4th para. And I'm being generous.

Does something happen soon?

Adam Heine said...

I agree, the dialect's a little thick, but I like bits of it (like "Gowway ye mobbin"). It might be enough to lighten it. Change ye to you, yourn to yours.

Anyway, like EE hinted, I think the dialect's going to be a subjective thing. I fully expect some folks to pop up here and say they loved it, and they wouldn't be wrong.

Also in the second to last sentence, "Dorlee thought" would read easier as "Dorlee noticed". My opinion.

Kiolia said...

The dialect is a *bit* much, but the stage direction is excessive - para 5 should be much shorter and broken up on top of that.

Neelloc said...

I like the dialogue; it helps add colour to the characters and setting. There aren't random apostrophes and many badly-spelled words to distract here.
A couple of nits: the sixth para describing her chores is a bit of a long list, especially if we read about these chores later. It also seems like this para is two jammed together, one on her present movements and the other a description of her work.
Overall, I like the voice and I'd read this.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I like dialect. Gives me a feel for the culture. This one has a bit too much, I think. I found it hard to read, where I had to slow down and parse some sentences word by word.

Dave F. said...

This is awfully bleak. It's like Cinderella at the Evil Stepmother's slaves house, serving the slaves. I can just hear one of them say "We're all beaten down and you're going to be beaten down too! Now work harder!"

It's a dreary start to a story.

writtenwyrdd said...

Thanks for the comments, folks. I wanted to see what the rection to the style would be. (I experiment with my submissions to EE.)

This is for a revamped fairy tale--Beauty and the Beast done as horror-- and it is a bit bleak; but having a bleak situation makes our character suitably glad to have a change, even if it might be not so hot.

I wasn't sure about ye and yourn but left that in for the minions to voice their preference. I can see that you guys mostly don't like it.

batgirl said...

I could be wrong (it happens!) but I think 'ye' is the plural. I know 'thou' is familiar and 'you' is formal (and 'thee' is Quaker). On the other hand, I think 'ye' was used differently in the 1800s, so it depends on the dating of the story.

I liked the dialect words like mobbin, and the absence of apostrophes.
From the little I know of weaving and lace-making, it seemed odd that a deformed hand wouldn't affect her work.

Dave F. said...

I thought about dialect and wanted to add my 2 cents.

When I start a short story, dialect doesn't matter to me. After all, it's a short story and I can finish it today.

When I start a book, then dialect matters because I may not want to live with dialect for the length of the book. It's an extra burden.

It's the same with stories that are written on fantasy worlds or outerspace planets where all the names are multi-syllabic with lots of glotal stops and funky sounds. 100K words becomes a burden.

But that's my opinion. I've never asked anyone else about the matter.

Anonymous said...

In defense of lace making, tatting lace doesn't necessarily need a 'normal' hand for the hand looping the shuttle.

_*Rachel*_ said...

I'm with the anti-dialect people; it's just a little much to keep up. Use some, by all means, but a little less.

Beauty and the Beast? I love Beauty and the Beast! ...no duh, my last opening was for a retelling.

Yeah, howzabout that lace? That, and the last paragraph feels wordy. Infodump-ish, a tad.

Anonymous said...

my vote is for much less dialect.

Faceless Minion said...

Dorlee refers to the woman as both Mam and ma'am. This is close enough to being the same to make me wonder if it's really supposed to be that way.

Both weaving and lace making might be a little tricky depending on the technology and extent of deformity.

Also, if she's weaving in a smoky area, that cloth is going to smell like smoke.

BuffySquirrel said...

Here's news: some people's lives are bleak. It's not all sitting on a fountain and singing.

BuffySquirrel said...

Also, "thou" is nominative; "thee" is accusative.

Anonymous said...

It might help the reader through the bleakness to give Dorlee a bit more personality, perhaps through a couple of thought zingers. "Yes ma'am, I'll do that right away." _And then I'll kick your arse._ Something that foretells what to expect about the character.

--Bill H.

mywriterself said...

Dialect is not a short cut to characterization.

Believable characterization through dialect is the hardest, hardest thing to do well.

Dialect is not a hook, it's reader repellent.

Sarah Laurenson said...

My wife owns a loom and could weave one-handed. She might be able to set it up one-handed, too. Takes forever with two hands as it is, so this chore would be onreous perhaps, but doable. And that depends on what kind of equipment she has to weave with. Does she also need to card and spin?

Adam Heine said...

mywriterself said: "Dialect is not a hook, it's reader repellent."I disagree, or at least I would qualify that statement. Tom Sawyer, for example, is a fantastic use of dialect.

Dialect can and should be fun to read. It's just that it's very, very hard to do right, and worse, "right" is subjective.