Monday, November 22, 2010

New Beginning 808

“I HATE YOU!” she shouts as she approaches the stop, chasing the retreating bus a few yards before admitting defeat and strutting back to the shelter. Cassandra’s golden hair streams down her back, the rain makes her dress cling to her curves and her tall shoes enhance her feminine legs and her models’ walk.

She wishes.

In reality she mutters profanities as the bus vanishes into the distance. She’ll be even later for the party now.Her dress clings to her like the skin clings to an old sausage and her new heels are too high and difficult to walk in with any sort of grace. Or walk in at all. And they are giving her blisters. In fact they are 99% of the reason she missed the bus in the first place, (the other 1% being the not too undesirable, incredibly rugged carpenter fixing her banister). Her (reddish) blonde hair streams down her back - that was at least partly accurate in her idealised fantasy. Ignoring, of course,that it is still bunched up into the ponytail she slept in.

In her dreams.

In actuality, she wouldn't have run after the bus at all if the driver hadn't deliberately swerved into a puddle, sending a plume of water over the shopping cart that held her life's possessions. And her real name isn't Cassandra, though she thinks of herself as such.

Yeah, right.

"Madge!" She freezes and turns toward the source of the voice. "Madge! Come here! Stop chasing the buses you stupid thing!" She lets out a brief "Yip!" and trots back toward her owner. Isn't her fault that Retrievers have a short attention--

Scatalogical punchline.

Ooh, interesting turd. Sniff, sniff. Definitely not one of mine.


Opening: Naomi.....Continuation: Anon.

12 comments:

Evil Editor said...

UNCHOSEN CONTINUATION:


Of course, muttering under her breath while at the same time lost in her romantic fantasies, she's not paying attention as she approaches the shelter and--

THWACK!

--anon.

Evil Editor said...

I have a preference for changing "she" to "Cassandra" in sentence 1, and "Cassandra" to "Her" in sentence 2. No big deal, but my first reaction when I read "she shouts" is Who shouts? Plus when I get to sentence 2, I'm not positive Cassandra is she. The other way around I'm positive her is Cassandra.

I'd put the apostrophe after the l in models.

"In her idealized fantasy" isn't needed.

Is hair "streaming down your back" accurate if it's bunched up into a ponytail? If not, which is the part that's accurate?

High heels, skin-tight dress, rain--sounds like she'd be taking a cab to this party.

Dave F. said...

From a real he-man's POV, (snark, snark, giggle, snort, snark. belch, butt scratch...) I know that women are obsessed with uncomfortable shoes but this is saying the same thing three times:
and her new heels are too high and difficult to walk in with any sort of grace. Or walk in at all. And they are giving her blisters.

I like all her hyperbolic views of herself. It works well and makes her interesting.

arhooley said...

Even though this is set in Cassandra's mind, I think you have a problem with voice, or perhaps language choice.

Someone "strutting" back from defeat didn't work for me, even if it was a fantasy.

No comma before parentheses, please -- and in fact, "the other 1% being . . . carpenter" could come out of the parens altogether.

"Her idealised fantasy" seems redundant. "Her fantasy" will do, although you could end that sentence with "at least partly accurate." We know you're referring to truth vs. fantasy.

"not too undesirable, incredibly rugged" is uneven. "not too un" followed by "incredibly" gives me different impressions.

It sounds like we've got another Bridget Jones?

Anonymous said...

Starting with the fantasy made the switch to reality more confusing than it needed to be.

As it stands, I don't know what part of the woman in the first para is real, and then I have to compare the two images, and I still don't know what is real.

Try switching the sequence to reality - fantasy - back to reality. You get something like this:

Ethel mutters profanities as the bus vanishes into the distance. She'll be even later for the party now. Her dress clings to her like the skin clings to an old sausage and her new heels are too high and difficult to talk in with any sort of grace. Or walk in at all.

In her dreams, her name is Cassandra, her golden hair streams down her back, and the rain ...

you get the idea. Please tell us her real name.

Now, about the character:

I can understand that she wants to be taller, more beautiful and more elegant, but her complaints are all things that are under her control. You can choose to buy dresses that don't cling to you like the skin on an old sausage. You can choose to buy shoes that fit properly, are fashionable, and easy to walk in. And you can certainly choose to brush your hair.

So what I see is a character who sees herself as a sad mess and wishes she looked different but isn't willing to put in any effort. For me, that makes her unlikeable and a little tedious.

I have a feeling that's not what you intended.

alaskaravenclaw said...

Male writers, OTOH, are fond of strapping their female characters into stiletto heels and then having them run from the bad guys, fight with the bad guys, scale high stone cliffs and spring merrily from rooftop to rooftop-- all without thinking of removing their stilts.

This opening was fairly well-written, I thought. Only two things threw me. One was the present-tense (which some people like, but IMHO it's hard to make work. And to point out that some hugely successful works are written in the present tense doesn't change the fact that it's hard to make work.)

The other was "like the skin clings to an old sausage". This is a strong image and interrupts the reader's suspension of disbelief. Here, as with the present tense: ideally you don't want the reader thinking about your writing instead of thinking about your story.

stacy said...

Now, about the character:

I can understand that she wants to be taller, more beautiful and more elegant, but her complaints are all things that are under her control. You can choose to buy dresses that don't cling to you like the skin on an old sausage. You can choose to buy shoes that fit properly, are fashionable, and easy to walk in. And you can certainly choose to brush your hair.

So what I see is a character who sees herself as a sad mess and wishes she looked different but isn't willing to put in any effort. For me, that makes her unlikeable and a little tedious.

I have a feeling that's not what you intended.


If the author solves all the problems within the MC's control before we even get started, we're not left with much of a story.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

I would suggest breaking that first sentence into two - one for Cassandra to scream and chase the bus, one for the next action when she gives up and turns back around.

If you're going to do two major shifts in perspective (from reality to fantasy and back again) in the first 250 words, it would help if you made the transitions a little clearer. Perhaps like so:


“I HATE YOU!” she shouts as she approaches the stop, chasing the retreating bus a few yards before admitting defeat. She pulls her shoulders back with dignity and struts back to the shelter.

Cassandra’s golden hair streams down her back, the rain makes her dress cling to her curves and her tall shoes enhance her legs and her model's walk.

A car horn blare yanks her cruelly out of her fantasy.

In reality she mutters profanities as the bus vanishes into the distance...

Anonymous said...

I don't like the all caps and the "she shouts"--I'd go with one or the other. I think you mean the shelter at the bus stop, but when I first read it, I thought you meant a real shelter and then when you went to golden hair, I seriously thought it was a kids' story with a golden retriever as the mc.

The old sausage reference posits her as the old sausage, so maybe lose that comparison.

1 percent is almost nothing. I bet the rugged carpenter is more than 1% why. If not, why is he mentioned?

Is she really going to a party in the ponytail she slept in? If she really fantasizes about being beautiful, I can't imagine she wouldn't at least try.

It seems like a decent place to start the story; I'd just clean it up a bit.

Anonymous said...

I thought the skins clung pretty well to new sausages too, or are we talking about different kinds of sausages. Maybe give a couple of examples to make the simile work.

Dave F. said...

In the old days they used to compare amply endowed women (then known as chunky or chubby or hefty but those names are sexist now) in tight dresses as looking like piglets squirming in a sack. That was usually at country club weddings when they got all liquored up and went beyond just glowing into dancing the polka, bunny hop and then their fingernails and high heels would rip up the lawn as they were being dragged out of the garden party. At least that was the gossip.

Gee, suddenly I'm not nostalgic for the good old days anymore.

Author said...

Thanks for all the comments everyone :) they are very helpful! I didn't realise I repeated the obvious so much but now you've all pointed out it seems...well...obvious.