Friday, July 28, 2006
New Beginning 14
Oh, God. She's at it again.
Lia Mitchell ducked past the kitchen, jerked opened the front door and burst out onto the porch to wait for her ride. She looked anxiously down the street, trying to ignore the raised voices spilling out of the house. The whole town probably could hear her mother verbally clobbering her father.
"You'd better not take my Elton John collection with you, you selfish pig!" her mother cried.
Lia winced in embarrassment and hoped the neighbors had their windows closed. If there was anything good about her father moving out next week--and for a long time she doubted there was--it was that the yelling would stop. She was sure once her parents had a little break from each other they could start patching up their marriage. If anything was left of it.
Secretly, she hoped he would take the Elton John albums, or at least the one with "Candle in the Wind" on it, the one about Princess Di that her mom liked to listen to while she cried and lit thirty-six candles in front of her painting of Windsor Castle.
God, no wonder he was leaving.
Continuation: Marjorie James
Posted by Evil Editor at 11:39 PM
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OMG! Great ending, EE.
Endings are provided by EE's minions, with an occasional enhancement. To provide one, click on Evil Editor's Openings in the sidebar links.
Teenagers are always embarrassed by their parents, and you show here how much more embarrassing parents in the middle of a divorce can be. I get the sense that Lia is more on her father's side than her mother's. And despite her embarrassment, you make it clear that what she wants most is for her family to heal, which lends a poignancy to the last line. Lia seems like someone who's caught between teenage sophistication and little-girl neediness.
You might trim back the modifiers (adjectives and adverbs). Also, the last paragraph could do without the interpolation "and for a long time she doubted there was"--it's overexplaining.
I thought the whole thing felt completely flat. It feels like a bunch of paper dolls having a domestic disturbance. Definitely not something I'd read further. And yeah, if you have an Elton John collection, you should expect your man to leave you.
I like the ducking, jerking, and bursting in the first sentence, but she's bursting out to "wait for her ride"? How about "... burst out onto the porch and glanced up and down the street, hoping like hell her ride would show up." Too long a sentence, but you get it. Also eliminates "anxiously".
The "She was sure... anything left of it" also seems a little weak. I know you want to set up the story (a sort of parent trap?), but I would be willing to invest a few more pages in reading if you could show me through dialog and conflict, details of the yard or what she has in her pockets, etc.
What is the significance of Elton John records besides just being a detail? It's the focus of the entire second paragraph, so I hope there is significance to it later. If not, maybe pick something else to focus on, something that has significance to Lia. That way, you could springboard off it in Lia's thoughts to show why she's so sure her parents will get back together instead of just telling us she's sure.
Otherwise, good energy and characterizations in a very small sample. I already like Lia and sympathize with her.
Lia was a teenager? If her parents fell in love with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road at age 18, they'd be about 50 now, and they'd have had Lia, their only child, when they were between 31 and 37, if she's a teenager. Or the story is set in the 1990s.
Maybe because I saw an episode of Mad About You recently where Jamie's mom leaves her father for a bit, I pictured Lia much older, world-weary and resigned after the first line, and wondered why she was still living with her parents and not driving.
Anyhow, that was the wrong picture, right? One place to change it might be "onto the porch to wait for her ride to yyy," where yyy equals swim team practice or something else that makes her age obvious (and bonus, also reveals part of her character).
I don't know if it's a regional thing, but I would expect to read "jerked open the front door", not "jerked opened". (I understand if you object to the way I have punctuated that sentence.)
Not sure why raised voices spill. Is that the best word for it? Don't they explode or something?
The phrase "you selfish pig" is really unbelievable. Also, I can't connect "verbally clobbering" to "I'm warning you, stay away from my Rocket Man!" Does the father just laugh when the mom says this, or does he act like he just got hit in the face? I think he laughs, because she is the one who sounds threatened by his actions.
"Lia winced in embarrassment" is redundant. If Lia, for example, winced in joy because she has a nervous tic motion of the head to the left, you might have to say that she winced in joy to alert the reader that this is no normal wince.
Dan--I wouldn't make assumptions about the age of the parents by their record collection. I know a lot of people under 50 who like Elton John. Some of them could easily be parents of teenagers. FWIW.
It takes place in the 70's or 80's? This is so similar to the beginning of my story, it's not funny. Look me up if you feel like sharing the whole first chapter.
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