Friday, December 15, 2006

New Beginning 174

Abigail eyed the oxen and wagon with concern. Large as the wagon was, it still didn’t seem sturdy enough for the long trip ahead, nor did the oxen hitched to the pole seem healthy enough to make the trip. Holding all criticism from her voice, she turned to her husband, “That first pair, Frank, I’m sure you looked them over, and they were probably the best available back home, but perhaps they are a bit worn down? Now that we’re in St. Louis, do we have enough left to trade for a stronger team?”

Pride stung, Frank lashed out at Abigail, “There is no satisfying you! If you want a fancy rig and team, you should have married a rich man, not a man who needs to use his hands for a living!”

He glowered at her, his eyes slowly drifting downward to her chest. Her pair had seemed the best available back home, too. But here in St. Louis they seemed a bit saggy compared to the pushed-up bosoms of the fancy ladies.

He decided against saying so. Otherwise he'd be using his hands for more than just his work.

Opening: CM Allison.....Continuation: midwife


Anonymous said...

Awesome continuation! That's good!

I like the story too, so far. Kind of a 'Honeymooners' meets 'Davy Crockett'. I wonder if the arguing is a central theme? Can't imagine they got all the way to St. Louis with all the negativity and doubt. So I'm guessing it's an aberration. I'd rather read about the trek west than a squabbling couple.

Anonymous said...

"Abigail eyed the oxen...".

Is all of this some kind of sexual inuendo or are they really inspecting their transportation?

Rei said...

Too much use of trip in 1st para 2nd sentence, and you should really terminate the first sentence of the 2nd para after "Abigail".

Apart from that, I've seen far too little of this to know whether it will be any good.

Anonymous said...

Awesome continuation, I can just imagine Frank thinking that! Thanks for the comments also, I was starting to catch some of what was suggested after seeing it on the post.

Anon 12:28, nope, not all arguing, we have fire, flood, accidents and deaths (just not in the first 3 pages)

Thanks minions!
cm allison

Bernita said...

I hate "Frank" already.

Anonymous said...

It's just like the 'Oregon Trail' computer game they made us all play in elementary school... complete with references to sickly oxen, wagons of suspect durability, and that haunting refrain "Maybe I should have chosen the banker instead of the carpenter...."

Now all it needs is for everyone to die of cholera.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Frank on this one. Sorry, bernita. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Didn't know there was a game about the Oregon Trail Megan, hope that doesn't stop interested readers (if I make it that far). Abigail started yelling in my ear 10 years ago.... rats! having an 8-5 job!
Thanks Bernita, I hate him too! (And wish he would change, men can't live with them and can't hang drywall without them.)

HawkOwl said...

I disliked it from word two. "Eyed" is so vacant yet so trying-too-hard. If there isn't a good word to say "visually inspected and assessed the fitness of," there is nothing wrong with "looked at."

Also, no need to tell us the oxen are hitched to the wagon. I think most people will make that assumption.

Also, the dialogue really doesn't sound true, and especially when it says "holding all criticism from her voice" and then goes on to be totally critical. I don't think anybody would take "I'm sure they're the best you have but can we get better ones now?" as anything but criticism. Also, TMI again. People travelling together don't say to each other "now that we're in Yellowknife" or wherever. They just say "hey, let's go to McDonald's." And again with "do we have enough left to trade for a stronger team." Too much explaining. If she was really saying that and trying to avoid a beating she'd probably say something like "well these guys sure did good getting here. You wanna see if we can get a fresh pair and see how much faster we can move?"

"Pride stung" is ugly, TMI again, and trying too hard again. And "lashed out" is like "eyed." And Frank's lines don't sound any more real than Abigail's.

Usually I'm not interested in the details but in this one, the whole is insipid while the details are glaringly annoying. And the same annoyance over and over.

That being said, assuming the concept is to follow these two as they travel west by ox-drawn wagon, it could have potential. It will depend on how well it's executed.

Good luck with it.

Anonymous said...

It seems a little heavy-handed to me. Abigail=good, tactful and kind. Frank=first class jerk. More subtlety would be intriguing.

Also, that whole line about "Pride stung, Frank lashed out at Abigail..." seems like too much telling. I think we are smart enough to infer from Frank's response what is going on.

Just my two cents...oh and I loved your line about men - can't live with them, can't drywall without them. LOL

Anonymous said...

Not at all helpful, but somehow I managed to read the first line as "Abigail the oxen eyed the wagon."

Anonymous said...

I was thinking, do we know for sure that they were going west? Maybe they were coming from the West Coast to go live in Boston. Maybe they were moving from Texas to Canada because the chain of hotels Frank works for transferred him to Winnipeg.

Dave Fragments said...

I think it's too negative as an opening. If you're going to paint a picture of a bickering couple moving out west, then this is too heavy handed.

If he ditches her in the nearest town because she's a nag, then travels on, maybe this should be backstory. If it's her story and she's the abandoned spoiled brat ;learning not to be a spoiled brat, this is still backstory.

Kate Thornton said...

Great continuation!

I really liked the opening - I could see a wonderful saga of the plains coming out of this if there aren't any zombies and it's not just going to turn into one of those zombies of the midwest stories.

Anonymous said...

Ouch! One paragraph per character's point-of-view? I hope there's not a crowd scene; we'll lose the thread of the tale entirely.

Although... a crowd scene would at least give us a visual of the location. They and their wagon might be floating ten feet above a bare St. Louis avenue at midnight, for all the 'grounding' supplied here.

Also, 'Show' and 'Tell' are two separate concepts, despite what we all heard in grade school. Don't do both in the same sentence (ie 'Pride stung' - a Tell - and 'lashed out' - a Show) Ideally, you'll SHOW anything important (ie 'Frank turned on her, his neck veins throbbing') and TELL us - narrate - anything not very exciting that can be summarized neatly in one person's head ('The scrawny oxen had barely dragged them from Daddy's farm to St. Louis; they'd never have the strength to haul the heavy wagon all the way to ____.')

Sorry. Thumbs down from me.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, sorry author, but there seems to be a little too much "As you know, Bob..." here.

For instance, wifey doesn't need to recite the history of their ox ownership in order to suggest they get new ones. I suspect you put that information is there for me, the reader. You'd better find a more subtle way to tell me what I need to know.

Not because I'm a great believer in all inane rules. I'm not. But this rule is a good one. It makes it hard to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! My very first continuation! Of course, EE made it better...a bit cruder, too.

Anonymous said...

Author, any comparisons with 'Oregon Trail' are good ones. Everyone loves 'Oregon Trail.'

me said...

Oooh - what about a rich man who uses his hands for more than just a living!

McKoala said...

Great continuation; yes, midwife, that Evil Editor is a naughty one, but I assume you put the idea in his head in the first place...

I love pioneer yarns and so would read on, but I also found the writing a bit on the telling side.

Anonymous said...

OMG-the continuation is, well, awful, I mean aweful. LOL!

Author, the story sounds like it's intended for a juvenile audience based on the lanugage. Is it? If so, use younger characters.

If not, find a way to punch up the language.


good luck.