Wednesday, August 09, 2006

New Beginning 56

"Izzi! I got the job! Call me!"

It always started out the same way. The same breathless excitement, the same certainty, the same glow in Kathryn's eyes. It was always the dream job, finally the right alignment of the stars. But every one of her sister's bosses seemed to be named “Shithead”. Kat was drawn into disastrous relationships the way some people were suckered into buying lottery tickets. After all, someone had to win.

Isabel was tired of picking up the pieces left by her sister's spectacular flame-outs. Stabbing the skip button on the telephone, she let the image fade from the display. Kat could damn well call her back this time. She needed a change of clothes, a hot shower, and drink, but not necessarily in that order.

She hated interview days. The one today had been as difficult as the ten that came before it, all put together.

Getting out of the shower, her clothes wet and her drink full of soapsuds, Isabel decided that wasn't the right order either. She squelched her way into the living room, still thinking about her sister. The problem, she decided, was that Kat simply wasn't cut out to be a coal miner.

Opening: Lisa Janice Cohen.....Continuation: Marjorie James


Anonymous said...

The writing here is fine, so I'd read on to see if the story kicks in soon. As it stands, you've loaded the opening with backstory about Izzi when it seems as though Kat will be the important person.

I'd rather know about the interview Kat is on than hear up front about what she thinks about Izzi's history of failed jobs.

Jump into the action of the story and fill us in later.

An alternative to this opening might show the reader all the problems Kat is having with her interview (assuming the stakes are high) and then she plays the message from Izzi. But obviously that depends on where the story is heading.

Regardless, wait till later to dump some of this backstory out, so you don't scare off an agent on page 1.

Good luck!

PJD said...

Unlike frainstorm, I didn't see this as backstory. I thought it showed the tension between the sisters, a bit about both characters, and an initial event that seems good but we are being told will turn out to be bad.

If it's a phone call, how does the glow in Kathryn's eyes get seen by Izzy? If it's a video phone as is implied by the image fading in the next paragraph, perhaps make that more clear earlier.

The "but every one of her sister's bosses..." sentence threw me; the "her" here refers to Kathryn, but I think you're talking about Kathryn's bosses, not Kathryn's sister's bosses.

I like the simile of the lottery tickets, but I think I like it better without the explanation that after all, someone had to win. I prefer the image of her grabbing relationships like lottery tickets, trying her luck over and over again with great hope but not much chance of winning. And, unlike lotteries, not every relationship must have a winner.

I'm lukewarm on this because it feels like it's starting in a lonely, slow moment. I hope someone bursts in the door or crashes through a window or something within the next few pages. I don't really want to read about her wind-down time (drink and shower, especially if Isabel is Amy's mom).

Anonymous said...

Nothing here really jumps out at me, good or bad. Dialogue isn't my favourite way to start (although I've been known to do it ... hmm ... maybe I need to take my own advice occasionally), because all I see is a blank canvas with speech bubbles coming out of it. (What's the turkey term? Brenda Starr dialogue?) I think it's a fairly even split on that though. It did give me a nice sense that this had happened before, but it made it harder for me to get into the story straight up.

If Izzi is the main character (which I'm guessing she is, unless I've got the names mixed up), I'd be a little concerned about the fact that her viewpoint doesn't seem to come in until the third paragraph. More so if the entire story is in her viewpoint.

I like the comparison with people who buy lottery tickets :) ("The State lottery, where everyone's a winner! Actual odds of winning one in 383 million.")

The premise is interesting enough that I'd read on. I just think this might read better with Izzi's viewpoint coming through straight away. Even if the backstory comes in soon after, it will be coloured by the protagonist's thoughts, and therefore, IMO, serve a purpose beyond informing the reader.

And as a disclaimer, I don't normally read this type of fiction (unless Izzi whips out a magic wand and zaps her sister within the next page or so).

And LOL at the continuation!

Anonymous said...

I read this as both sisters looking for a job, one sister gets jobs lots easier and has already lined up a new one. The other sister is schlepping through the interview process. But I'm with frainstorm, I'm not sure why Izzi is so important that she has to be the first thing we hear about. Unless this entire story is about Izzi, which it could be, then I think it would serve your purpose better to start with K and her painful interview process. I'd rather be drawn into relating with K's miserable day then learning about her sister.

Anonymous said...

This works--by "works," I mean it's a windowpane through which I instantly see things happening. The only two smudges:

1. glow in...eyes. But it's a phone message. Okay, it seems to be a videophone but that's not at all clear.

2. hot shower, and drink, but not necessarily in that order.

She hated interview days. The one today had been as difficult as the ten that came before it, all put together.

Waitwaitwait... viewpoint character is thinking about her sister, and suddenly hates interview days? Needs a better join between the sister's interview and the viewpoint character's hatred of interview days.

This is good stuff. It gets my interest. "Someone had to win" is excellent--sharp, judgmental. I wouldn't put this down so far.

Anonymous said...

I got lost in this one. I presume Izzi=Isabel and Kat=Kathryn so we're only dealing with two people, not four. I further assume that "her sister"=Kathryn, meaning that we're in Isabel's POV? But is the third paragraph still Isabel? It seems rather odd that both women would be interviewing.

If this is all Isabel, maybe it would work better moving some of the action up front:
" "Izzi! I got the job! Call me!"

Isabel stabbed the skip button. She was tired of picking up the pieces left by her sister's spectacular flame-outs. Every job started iwth the same breathless excitement..."

Anonymous said...

I get Isabel's annoyance with her sister. Bosses named "Shithead", aren't most of them, anyhow?

It could go any way from here on. It might rock, or not. At least there's no confusion, of what the author is talking about.

Lisa Cohen said...

Thanks for your comments, oh, minions.

Things *do* happen quite quickly after this opening. It's difficult to show this in the first 150 words, but this is a thriller set about 20-30 years in the future. Izzi (Isabel) is an investigative reporter and the interview and the reasons she has difficulty with it help drive the plot.

Also the friction between the sisters is integral to the story.

pjd: you write "(drink and shower, especially if Isabel is Amy's mom)." Um--who is Amy?

Anyway, much obliged to you all.


Jane said...

I like this opening. One nitpick: you could skip "Isabel was tired of picking up the pieces left by her sister's spectacular flame-outs" without actually losing any information. It's a well written sentence, but perhaps a little too telling. That Isabel is tired of this is pretty clear in her actions.

Good luck with your book!

Daisy Bateman said...

Hi author! Good to know this is being helpful to you.
Re: your comments. In that case, you might want to find a word other than "interview" to describe what Izzi had been doing that day, since the proximity to the part about her sister's job interviews makes it confusing. Also, I had a problem with describing Kat's failed job experiences as "relationships"-- I had to read that sentence a couple of times to make sure she wasn't talking about romantic relationships instead.

PJD said...

Sorry, ljcohen, "Amy" is from a previous beginning which included some rather graphic and controversial visuals. I meant it as a sort of "in joke" but failed. I'll work on it, and I'll tell it again when it's actually funny.

So Izzy's "interview" has nothing to do with getting a new job? It has to do with her interviewing someone for a story? That's got to be made clear right away. Given the context you've set with Kathryn, the reader immediately assumes both are interviewing for jobs.

Lisa Cohen said...

No worries, pjd. I skipped that one after about the first sentence. LOL.

I appreciate the feedback. As the writer, of course it's clear to *me* what I'm referring to when I say 'interview'. I just forget you are all not privy to my thoughts.


Will clarify in the rewrite.

Anonymous said...

I basically liked this. The last paragraph confused me. Made me wonder if Izzi was schizoid and had been the one who hired Kat!

Then, I was completed non-plussed by Frainstorm's take! My read: Kat has the history of fizzled jobs. Kat gets the new job. Izzi is disgusted and predicts doom and gloom for her sister Kat. Izzie skips over the message. Izzie had a bad day at work. (The last paragraph is the cause of the reader confusion, I think, talking about Izzi's work as interviews.)

Since this is set in the future, I'd want more of that upfront. As in immediately. Even something simple (or stupid) like an opening line--Kat's image popped up on the vid-mail.

I'd keep reading.

Word verification: omoisms! What does that mean?

Anonymous said...

Omoisms: ominous beginnings?