Tuesday, July 25, 2006
New Beginning 2
Stacy Warner watched her husband push his breakfast back and forth across his plate. He didn't like it. It was only 8:30 in the morning and she was a failure already.
"I don't think these eggs are done."
"What do you mean? Of course they are." Stacy hoped she sounded lighthearted. She felt anything but.
"They're runny." Adam's hesitation told her that he didn't want to hurt her feelings. She hated that he had to be so careful around her now. Their relationship used to feel so easy.
Stacy forced a laugh into her voice as she continued, "If people died from runny eggs, there'd be deaths all over the world every morning." Adam smiled at her now, so she crossed the room towards him as she continued, "Eggs over easy, poached eggs, sunny side up; any of these sound familiar?"
Subtly, as if there were a slice of Canadian bacon on his plate that he needed to cut, Adam picked up his knife.
Continuation: Evil Editor
Posted by Evil Editor at 9:07 PM
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I've read agent blogs that say way, way too many stories start with some version of this. Waking up, brushing teeth, eating breakfast, etc.
You start the day that way, why not start the story that way, right?
It's too hard to tell where this story is going, but maybe you create a different scene, yet still force the same tension into it so you create the same feel, but in a more original way.
Like, instead, maybe it's lunch time and she burns the toast again. And why is she spreading the jam with a butcher knife anyway?
Good luck with it!
The first paragraph lost my interest. I really don't care to read about a character whose self image is messed up enough that she thinks she's a failure because she can't cook eggs.
Also, I'm kinda thinking that Adam is a jerk. Because the first rule of fight club<, um, I mean the first rule of living with a bad cook is, if you don't want to hurt their feelings, then don't mention how bad the food the is. You either toss it when they aren't looking or choke it down with a smile.
In addition to being hilarious, this sentence [Subtly, as if there were something on his plate he needed to cut, he picked up his knife.] captures my feelings for both Adam and Stacy after finishing this excerpt.
However, I'd like to note, this reaction is in reading the first words with no context. If I had read the query page or the back of a book I might know enough about the plot and/or characters to carry on despite my initial dislike.
I liked the opening well enough. I was trying to figure out whether the relationship was genuine or not. Maybe she's the new house keeper, or it's an arranged marriage, or something like that.
You lost me with the last line though. EE's revised version had spunk. The original was mean but not sharp enough, like getting cut with a rusty spoon.
Runny eggs are not my thing. Not very interesting. I'm with frainstorm--there's got to be loads better ways to start the tension. If you want it to be morning-maybe it's in the bedroom. Already more interesting!
If he really loved her he would eat the eggs and tell her how delicious they were. -JTC
This was mine. I still have loads of polishing to do, but I wanted to jump at the chance to submit before EE changed his mind.
Thank you for all the comments and suggestions! I can definitely see room for improvement.
Word verification: qnichf
I'm with EE on this--if Adam doesn't like the eggs, why can't he just make his own breakfast? Stacy thinks Adam is being careful and polite, but as a reader, I think he's being a jerk to see this as an issue at all.
Unless this is meant to be a dysfunctional relationship, and Stacy is soon going to see that for herself?
Geez Louise. Everyone thinks they're Evil Editor. I like it. It's women's fiction, right? I like the tone of it. There's something wrong in their relationship, and I'm curious to know what. Different genres call for different openings. I don't think a novel for adult women necessarily has to begin with a bloody knife fight (although the comment EE made was funny), and I hope to dog it isn't the same old "forty year old woman with 2.3 kids is left by a husband (whom she should have kicked to the curb years ago, in the first place) for a younger super model."
I like ordinary people in fiction. Does every heroine have to be a spunky blonde twenty-year old with a PhD in astrophysics? Sometimes it's capturing the nuances of white bread life that make for some of the most insightful reading, and those don't always arrive on the first page, much less the first paragraph.
I'd keep reading at least to the bottom of the page, just to see where it was headed. So there. :)
Stacy Warner is the name of House's ex-wife on House. Because their realtionship is/was dysfunctional, my first thought was that this was fanfic. You might want to rethink the name.
Hey Southern Writer.
Nobody thinks they're Evil Editor--well, except the original EE. We're just expressing an opinion, fwiw. (mine is the runny eggs aren't my thing one).
But while the beginning of this story didn't grab me, I agree with you about "ordinary people" in fiction. That's why I made my MMC an ordinary kid (I write juvenile -YA novels), but put him in an unusual situation. Some people just don't like "ordinary" main characters because they seem boring to them (including one of my critiquers). Others love it because it seems so real (including another one of my critiquers).
If I cooked eggs for my husband first thing in the morning (admittedly not my favorite time of day) and he complained they were runny, I'd probably rip his head off and shove the eggs down his neck-hole. I might feel like a failure afterward. Or I might not.
Of course, since The Oatmeal Incident he doesn't ever ask me to cook for him before noon.
kis - I wish I knew you. You're one of the most interesting people on the writer's blog circuit, and I'd love to read something of yours. Yanno what I mean - some of your fiction.
Just a couple clarifications:
This is women's fiction (not to be confused with chick lit).
Stacy & Adam have been married for seven months. She was able to quit her job, which seemed like a wonderful idea at the time, but now she's feeling insecure and unsure of her place in the world. He has been walking on tiptoes around her, and feels like nothing he says is right. He's worried about his wife, but is also starting to resent that he has to be so careful around her all the time.
It's hard to get much across in only 150 words!
Word Verification: ntxpkl
I like ordinary people in fiction.
Do ordinary people give their spouses a hard time because the eggs are runny, instead of just making their own breakfast? 'Cause I'm a woman, and this doesn't read like the sort of fiction that reflects the real world to me.
Alas, southern writer, I'm doomed to a life of literary obscurity in the hinterlands of northern Vancouver Island. For those of you who may be geographically challenged and don't own an atlas, that's norther than Seattle, but not as north as Alaska. It has one of those exceedingly damp, dark climates that drive people slowly mad. (This is the place where South Africans with porphyria want to live.)
The best thing you can have living in a place like this is a vivid imagination. ;)
If the conversation must be about something as trivial as runny eggs, it should be as brief as possible while still getting across the tension between them.
That she was trying to sound lighthearted, but didn't feel that way is already there in her thoughts and words.
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