Monday, August 21, 2006

New Beginning 84

Turkey (short story)

“We’ve got something men want, don’t we, Aunt Faye?” Nicole said, punctuating her statement with a smirk.

“How’d you get to be so cynical?”

“Experience!” the twenty-one-year-old shot back. Another small coup. Her control of the table was established.

Nicole and Faye sat near the end of a thanksgiving table laden with wealth. The value of the paintings in the dining room alone would have been enough to make a small, impoverished country give thanks. Nicole was wearing one of her silky black dresses. It might have looked slutty, if it hadn’t had a four digit price tag.

“Mark understands the score,” Nicole continued.

Frumpy Aunt Faye, who had one husband in the ground, one ex-husband barely above ground, and another man on the way to the altar, didn’t like being upstaged by 21-year-old Nicole on the question of relationships. She dabbed her lips with her napkin and said, "Not to brag, my dear, but I've quaffed more meat popsicle in my time than you will if you live to a hundred."

The room went silent.

"Including your precious Mark's," Aunt Faye added with a wink. That last part wasn't true, but what did it matter? She had regained control of the table.

Opening: Bichon.....Continuation: Evil Editor


Anonymous said...

Whose POV are we in in the beginning?

There are aspects that interest me, make me want to read more to get the answer.

Is Nicole from a wealthy family (old money or new money - I think new, else they wouldn't be worried about the cost of the dress and would take the art for granted), or are they art smugglers.

Bernita said...

Wotinhell does a table "laden with wealth" mean?
Agree with Cathy - has a definite non-U tone.

HawkOwl said...


The dialogue is fake, overdone, and ineffective.

No one punctuates with a smirk. Pauses and inflections punctuate. Smirks might underline, at most. If you have to have the smirk, just go "Nicole said with a smirk."

She didn't "shoot back." It's a terribly lame come-back and there's no need for any indication of who's talking at that point anyway.

The rest of the third paragraph sounds like you're desperately trying to make it deep and intriguing - and failing.

The fourth paragraph is disruptive, and the part about the impoverished country is so hackneyed.

Why would a slutty dress look any less slutty for being expensive? On the contrary, it looks more deliberately slutty. Watch the Academy Awards or one of those affairs. Expensive slut-o-rama.

The fifth paragraph is more of the ineffective dialogue.

In the sixth, you really don't need to repeat that Nicole is 21.

One gets the feeling that another snappy repartie is coming after all the trying-to-be-witty backstory on Faye.

If you clean up the style, there might be an entertaining plot coming, but as it is I'd have put it down at the smirk. Try something like this:

“We’ve got something men want, don’t we, Aunt Faye?” Nicole said with a smirk.

“How’d you get to be so cynical?”


“Mark understands the score,” she added after a pause.

They sat near the end of a thanksgiving table laden with wealth, Nicole in a expensive, slutty little black dress and fuck-me shoes, Aunt Faye in a matronly mauve dress and pearls.

See? It's much better with fuck-me shoes.

writtenwyrdd said...

The beginning shows conflict, but not much else. I really didn't like the "control of the table" bit, although I understood what you were getting at. It didn't make sense to me because you didn't tie it to anything.

And I have to agree the language and dialog don't work well. You are trying for something specific, obviously; however it doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

"Nicole and Faye sat near the end of a thanksgiving table laden with wealth." So, the table is wealthy? Is all the money piled on the table? Is the family riches all invested in fine silver?

The continuation is friggin great. "Not to brag, my dear, but I've quaffed more meat popsicle in my time than you will if you live to a hundred." Hilarious! Kudos to the author. -JTC

Dave Fragments said...

This might be an over-the-top gold-digger gals get their come-uppance novel like the Desperate Housewives TV show. If I can be slightly naughty and say the plot might be "how my vagina conquered the world" . . . (I apologize if I offended anyone)

in that case, all the over the top sleeze like expensive slutty dresses and "wealth" to finance a small country makes sense.

And the story could be the next great satire.

PJD said...

For me, something didn't ring true at first. Then it hit me:

"We've got something women want, don't we, Uncle Joe?" Tom looked over the table laden with wealth.

Now THAT makes sense. >ducks<

The placement of "table laden with wealth" implies two things: First, that they're saying they have wealth and men want it. Second, that the table has a bunch of valuable paintings on it... until you read on and realize that the author probably didn't intend that.

Anyway, I felt the whole thing was trying too hard to be coy. By the time Nicole continues, "Mark understands the score," I'm already thinking, so get on with it, what's happening, are there other people at the table listening in, quit with the innuendo and give me something to chew on... how long is this short story, anyway?.

The thoughts about control of the table, the shooting retorts, the emphasis on score... these don't strike me as feminine. I'm assuming the author is a man. I could be wrong, or perhaps the author wants to establish a setting laden with testosterone.

(Also... is Nicole well educated? Perhaps she might ask "Haven't we" instead of "Don't we" in the first line. I would also like to lose the exclamation point after Experience.)

verification word: xxfwhlp
what it sounds like when you're deleting text on an old manual typewriter and you fall off your chair

Anonymous said...

I disagree with hawkowl on the punctuating with a smirk and how the dress "might have looked slutty if it hadn't had a four digit price tag." I liked both of those points, they made me smile, but I agree with him on the rest of it. It's seems like you're trying too hard to be witty and cynical and it's not working. I do like the premise of a snotty, rich girl and the tension between the younger and older women, though and I would continue reading based on that but to really draw the reader in, I'd change the dialogue or cut it all together. I especially don't like the first sentence. I'm not a big fan of books starting out with dialogue in the first place but if it's done, it has to be done right and this isn't. Good luck

Anonymous said...

Have to say that I really enjoyed this. I understood the "laden with wealth" reference to mean a table full of expensive food...far more than this very thin snooty girl could ever eat. The chunky aunt would have her share of high calorie stuff (pate anyone?) but I have a vision of so much waste...a vision planted by the mention of the third world country.

I would read more.

(And kudos to the continuation author...I needed a laugh)

Word verification: hkwhp (made me think of hawkowl)

Stacia said...

ROFL!! That is the best continuation ever.

Yeah, I actually thought the "Thanksgiving table laden with wealth" referred to food and drink, and that it was a great line...until the paintings were mentioned in the next line, and I wondered if the paintings were on the table, and if the author used "laden with wealth" to mean these people were very rich instead of that there was a wealth of food, in which case I didn't like the analogy.

Rei said...

I agree with hawkowl. Not much else to say but "ditto".

Anonymous said...

If you want to read a great dinner-party scene complete with quiet, cutting remarks, double entendres, sly glances and insults that are clear to everyone but their target, read Swordspoint by Helen Kushner. The dinner on the Duchess's barge is exceptional for subtle interplay, and the juxtaposition of what the protag is thinking, and what he's saying.

This scene needs more than just the statement that the "table is hers." Show the reactions of the other people there. Right now, all we have is Nicole and Aunt Faye. They might as well be sitting alone at opposite ends of a twelve-foot table. Tittering, nods, younger guests hiding their smiles so as not to offend poor Auntie. Less about how expensive the paintings are. More clarity about the elaborate place-settings. And much more about the interactions of the other people at the table.

Anonymous said...

My comments-without reading the others.

I like it basically. I thing there's repetition that's unnecessary. With a title like Turkey, you don't need to tell us that it's Thanksgiving.

I don't have a very good sense of Aunt Faye, either. Frumpy you say. That tells me about style, but not content. Are her values old-fashioned? narrow? intolerant? prudish?

Her language could be more formal to portray an uptight person, if that's your characterization.

"Another small coup."--What was the first one?

3 sentences to tell us they're wealthy. One might be enough. I pictured Aunt Faye at the head of the table. I don't think you need to tell me where they are sitting, I have an imagination.

I didn't like the phrase "frumpy aunt Faye." Better you show me, if her style is important.

And you do head-hop. Another small coup is clearly in Nicole's head. Faye didn't like being upstaged-sounds like it's coming from Faye (but maybe not). Show us Faye's reaction from Nicole's perspective.

For all the technical problems, I still like it. It's the start of a story between people with tension and conflict. (Obviously the tryptophan (sp?) from the turkey hasn't kicked in yet.)

I'd keep reading.

Anonymous said...

I actually don't think that this is nearly as bad as some people are saying. I agree it's a little awkward, but I actually liked the dress that would have been slutty except for the price tag. I think that it shows what kind of people they are. And no fuck me shoes. expletives in narrative are so unneccesary, and that's not because I'm prude, it's because you don't want to put your own voice into this unless the narrator is the MC, in which case great! but as a narrator, you are supposed to tell a story, not jar people out of it.

Anyway, this could do with a lot more pruning. But it's a good first draft. The idea itself if intersting enough that if you fix it up, it'll be good.

McKoala said...

In the UK we eat turkey at Christmas. I welcome a little help with place and time.

Kind of with Hawkowl, on much of this, though, sorry. There are some things that I like, though 'control of the table' - 'laden with wealth'.

Anonymous said...

Another brilliant continuation! Kudos to the anon author(s) for the meat popsicle line!

I enjoyed this beginning, and disagree with some of the other commentators.
The POV is omniscent, correct?
I understand the "laden with wealth," -- I think the problem isn't with the sentence so much as its placement. Going from there to a statement about the paintings on the wall instead of the food was confusing.
I liked the dress description, it contributes attitude.

Good luck, author.

Anonymous said...

"Laden with wealth" to me implies the $450/setting Royal Doulton bone china, the cut-crystal water goblets, the antique sterling silver cutlery and the $18/napkin table linens.

If I was writing about a huge spread of vittles, I'd say "laden with bounty."

HawkOwl said...

Kis - That's how I read it too. "Bounty", though? Sounds like a pirate story. If it's laden with food I'd say "laden with food." Or if I wanted to sound pedantic, "laden with victuals." Or if I wanted to sound really pedantic, I'd work in a cornucopia somewhere.

Anonymous said...

This certainly goes to show you how different people react differently to the same thing.

I'd keep reading here. You have me at the first sentence. I quite enjoyed her punctuating her statement.

Laden with wealth makes sense to me, but it seems polarizing enough with this small sample group that I think you need to change or clarify it.

Couple things I think you should fix, minor both: Thanksgiving gets a cap T, right? And you've established Nicole as 21, so no need to do it again a couple paragraphs later.

Good luck.