Wednesday, October 03, 2012

New Beginning 973

Norma shuffled down the steps onto the tarmac, throat twitching at the plane fumes. Heat waves shimmered ahead, and the iridescent blue sky dwarfed everything on the flat landscape.
She unbuttoned her jacket and fished for her sunglasses. A pair of girls pushed past her, a rucksack bumping her elbow. Her sunglasses cluttered to the ground, but they continued in their stride without a backwards glance. Surely they hadn’t boarded the plane on that freezing morning wearing those shorts and sandals? No, they were probably organized enough to have changed on board.
Brian's gaze followed their tanned legs. Norma slid her sunglasses on, and frowned. It was probably not their foresight he was admiring.
"Pull your tongue back in, dearest, people might trip," she sneered.
Brian ignored her.
Norma mopped her forehead and marched towards the terminal. Overdressed, overweight and already over this damn trip. 

"Are these your bags, ma'am?"

Norma turned to the attendant who had spoken, in the process catching her foot on the edge of Brian's wayward tongue and nearly falling face-first.

"For God's sake, Brian, I said pull it back in!"


The attendant finished counting and held out a hand. "Twenty-four bags at fifty dollars each comes to twelve hundred dollars, ma'am."

"I paid the bag fee when we checked in in Chicago!"

"Sorry, ma'am, that was the transport fee; this is the reacquisition fee."

Fuming, Norma pulled out her checkbook, knowing she didn't have enough in her account to cover this. Overpacked, overdrawn, and already over any attraction she used to feel for Brian and his absurdly long tongue.

Opening: anon......Continuation: JRMosher


Evil Editor said...

P1. I think of shuffling as something done on a flat surface. Can you shuffle down stairs?

I'd go with "gagging on the plane's engine fumes."

Doesn't the sky always dwarf everything in a flat landscape?

P2: I believe "cluttered" is okay if you're British. Otherwise you may want "clattered."

It sounds like the sunglasses are continuing in their stride. We're smart enough to figure out you don't mean that, but we still can't tell if "they" refers to just the girls or the girls and Norma.

Norma's thoughts about the girls being well-organized don't strike me as real in this situation. More likely she'd think, Not even a sorry or excuse me.

P3: Once again we have to think about who "their" is in "their foresight." Probably not the sunglasses.

I guess we're to assume Norma picked up her sunglasses, as she's now slipping them on.

It feels a bit odd that Brian isn't mentioned until paragraph 3. One of them could be following the other down the stairs, just to get his name in.

Anonymous said...

"Her sunglasses cluttered to the ground, but they continued in their stride without a backwards glance."

Talented sunglasses. Question for EE -- does an error like this in a query kick it out of consideration?

Evil Editor said...

Errors appear everywhere, even in the fourth printing of books published by major houses. It's when the errors start accumulating that the reader thinks, I'm not reading a whole book written by such a careless author. Of course, a query (which this isn't) being your first impression, and only a page, should be proofread several times so it's clean and clear.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

The sunglasses clattered, they didn't clutter, before they took off striding across the tarmac on their lil plastic legs.

POV slips all over the place. Are we in Brian's POV, or Nora's? If Nora's, she didn't sneer. If Brian's, we can't be privy to Nora's thoughts.

First two paragraphs contain lots of description, most of it extraneous. And lots of excess business. Does it matter whether the girls changed on the plane, or how Nora accessed her scurrying sunglasses?

Cut to the chase.

none said...

Nope, that use of cluttered is not okay if you're British. Try the Australians.

(the second word of the Captcha looks like two penguins holding hands to me)

Evil Editor said...

My source was

British Dialect to make a clatter.

In any case, I prefer "fell" to either one.

none said...

Did it say which dialect? Not one I'm familiar with, obviously :D.

khazar-khum said...

This may sound persnickity, but I got the impression this was a period piece, set perhaps in the late 50s/60s when travel by air was still a glamour affair. The combination of the names Norma, the more than slight disgust she has over the 'underdressed' girls, and the stairs to the tarmac all reinforced this.

Is it a period piece, a la Mad Men?

St0n3henge said...

I was laughing at those little walkin' sunglasses, too. That and Brian's roll-out tongue gave the whole thing a Roger Rabbit vibe.

If the writer can tone down her use of flowery language, this might be ok. If not, we end up with twitching throats, striding sunglasses, roller-towel tongues and people sneering sentences.

Dave Fragments said...

I"m going to suggest a different approach.
You want to establish Norma and Brian as the lead characters and with that, the fact that she is frazzled and frumpy after travel while he has a wandering eye. What does his wandering eye see? Two gals with the foresight to dress for the destination.
I think shuffling and the bright blue sky don't help with that.
Rucksack doesn't imply fashionable and attractive to me. It implies the opposite.

I"d start with the two girls in short shorts and tanned legs, brushing past Norma and sending her sunglasses crashing to the tarmac. Then the dialog with Brian. And then the descriptions of Brian and Norma.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

AA, it's funny you mention Roger Rabbit. I was thinking of that very bunny in re facelift #1071, as an example of a political point being transmogrified into something entertaining.