Thursday, April 24, 2008

New Beginning 491

"You'll never find happiness in your daydreams. The only way you'll ever be happy is through hard work and the Lord. Now back to work." Sarah's father shoved a broom into her sudsy hand before walking out of the kitchen.

Sarah tried to keep hot tears from spilling down her cheeks, all the while swiping at her nose with the back of a hand. She choked in a sob that turned into a hiccup. "I'll keep my dreams, thank you," she muttered, throwing a dirty cup back in the sink. "And you can have your hard work and your god until you drop dead and go to meet him."

She hadn't heard her father come back into the room, so the swift slap caught her by surprise. It knocked her and several dishes clattering to the floor. She trembled silently as she lay sprawled beside the chair she overturned in the fall.

"I will not have blasphemy in this house!" He trembled with rage. "Your godless ways will cease or I'll rid you of them. Make no mistake, I'll not let your behavior slide like I have in the past. You will obey me, just as God intended."

As Sarah picked herself up off the floor, her father turned away. "Well?" he said toward the corner of the kitchen.

The old man stepped out of the shadows and shook his head. "I'm sorry, Joel," he said. "I don't see the passion, the conviction. She practically had to throw herself at that chair, and the plates didn't even break."


"Maybe with a little practice, the Baptists'll take you. You might even be ready now for the Presbyterians. But you're not right for us. You just ain't gonna get your barn raising."

Opening: Cordia Amant.....Continuation: Anonymous


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuation:

He stalked out of the room. Sarah lay still until her sobs ceased. Then she rose to her feet, picked up the broom, swung a leg over it and flew out the window. She'd get Alison's zombification spell after the coven meeting. One dead Daddy coming up...--Tal

writtenwyrdd said...

This is really well done, I thought. Can't find anything to pick about, unless you wanted to flesh out that opening line about finding happiness in daydreams with an actual bit of daydreaming being interrupted. (Which might not work in the very beginning anyhow.)

And maybe you might consider dropping "she hadn't heard her father come back into the room, so" and just have that paragraph begin "The swift slap caught her by surprise. She hadn't heard her father come back into the room." The only reason I suggest that as a possibility is that it might up the surprize a little. But I liked it as is.

Really nice. And the continuation, too!

Evil Editor said...

It's wordy, especially the father's speech. If he's enraged he'd likely be less verbose. Thus I'd delete:

p.1: "your" and "Now back to work."

p.2: She choked in a sob that turned into a hiccup.

p.4: Your godless ways will cease or I'll rid you of them. Make no mistake, I'll not let your behavior slide like I have in the past.

Also, I wouldn't have her trembling in p.3 if he's going to tremble in p.4.

Anonymous said...

Someone that zealous would not care about happiness - so the first bit when the dad says "the only way you'll be happy" - threw off the entire piece for me.

It would be something more about eternal reward or damnation or life's about earning your way to heaven sort of thing.

(said the theologian granddaughter of Nazarenes)

Dave Fragments said...

I would trim p3.
She hadn't heard her father come back into the room. The slap caught her and knocked her to the floor. Sarah lay, trembling beside an overturned chair.

The surprise is implied in the suddenness of the slap.

The paragraph is all action. I think it should read that way. As it is written, the action seems slow and muted.

pacatrue said...

I think overall the opening works really well in that I already viscerally dislike the dad. The things that rubbed a bit wrong to me were the dreams comments. "I'll keep my dreams" in particular sounded a bit cliché. Maybe you could cut that one line?

And now the comments have told you to cut almost the entire opening while simultaneously saying we like it. You will have to decide which to choose, but it does sound like there's a consensus to trim bits here and there.

Scott from Oregon said...

I think the trouble lies in the language of the father. It sounds stilted and contrived. Like the dialogue is meant to tell the story, but too blatantly.

"Your godless ways will cease or I'll rid you of them. Make no mistake, I'll not let your behavior slide like I have in the past."

It just seems a little bit too convenient and expository. If he is indeed a religious zealot, his language and actions might be a bit more "zealous" than you've depicted them.

Whirlochre said...

We know which side we're supposed to be on right from the start and though I have no idea where this NB is going, I'm sure the father's come-uppance is due at some stage.

A couple of niggles.

her and several dishes comes as a piece, I see that now, but I stumbled over the 'her' on my first couple of reads.

swiping suggests Sarah takes a roundhouse punch or slap at her own nose. Do you mean 'wiping', or some other tear-removal strategy?

Saipan Writer said...

I think you've chosen a good place to begin. There's conflict and characterization. And I want to read about these people, this story!

But I agree with the continuation, and some of the comments here, that as written it doesn't quite hit the mark. It's not convincing.

I'd say pick a few telling details and let the rest go. Work on the dialogue, as others suggested.

To me, given the story's context, it seemed odd that it was the father who was chastising her over housework (unless, of course, we're going to learn that her mother is dead).

Good luck.

Saipan Writer said...

I forgot to say, loved the continuation!

Anonymous said...

Also- with a raging pain in the ass father like this- you learn to keep your thoughts to yourself.

I think a slap over her dropping a dish or wiping her eyes would do just fine.


Bonnie said...

I'm back, and of course I'm going to go against the current: you write well, but I thought the situation was trite and heavy handed. There's nothing about the girl or her father to engender interest or sympathy, beyond the bond of wanting to help a fellow creature who's suffering. But who is she? Why is she suffering? What does she want to do besides get out of her chores? The only reason seems to be that the father is rigid and abusive because he's religious. I grant you there are people like this, but nothing here helps me understand how this one particular family is going to work out their issues. I don't even get a feel for time and place -- it could be anything from a retelling of Cinderella to a scene from the polygamists in Texas.

talpianna said...

Bonnie--why couldn't it be a Cinderella story set in a polygamous cult? I don't think that's been done yet.

Bonnie said...

Talpianna -- yes, that certainly would work :)

Michelle said...

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. There's plenty here for me to digest. I know I've got some work with it, so all the ideas are very helpful. Thanks again.