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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » First 13 lines - Rebecca's Last Stand

   
Author Topic: First 13 lines - Rebecca's Last Stand
priscillabgoo
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I tried this with first person POV, but it didn't really come across the way I wanted. This is better but still feels flat. I want to make it more dynamic. Suggestions?


When Rebecca's husband died after more than sixty-five years of marriage, she thought her two children had come home to help settle things, and to provide a bit of comfort. As it turned out, Ruby and Samuel had quite different plans.

After dinner the first night, Ruby sat down in the parlor directly across from her mother. "Well Momma, this house sure seems empty, and even bigger than I remember." she said. "It may be empty in terms of people, but it's full of memories." Rebecca replied. Ruby, always stubborn, pushed on. "Well, it's too big for one person is all; what about the farm?" "I haven't decided about that, yet. I suppose you have ideas?" Ruby just smiled.

Samuel arrived the next day. From the moment of his birth, he was always following his sister. This time was no exception. "So

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited February 02, 2007).]


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Survivor
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Given that we have a prelude, a scene, and the introduction to yet another scene all in the first thirteen, you might be rushing forward too quickly. Like you're hurrying past everything else to hit your plot points.
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rjzeller
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I agree with Survivor's comments entirely -- seems like you're flying through a lot here in a very short time. That first paragraph could flesh out plenty, or you could simply start with the dinner scene.

And it may seem tangential to the plot, but knowing Rebecca's husband's name would be nice.


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wbriggs
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"Each time you change speakers in dialog," John said, "you have to --"

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Mary said. "You need a new paragraph."

"Like this?"

"Yes," she said.

--

I think what's missing in the speed of your delivery is the *significance*. We don't know how Rebecca feels about Ruby's comments, what she suspects is happening (if anything) -- just the dialog.

Nit, but OSC was adamant about it: no two characters whose names start with the same letter or sound, in the same story. If you have Rebecca, no R___ as her daughter, he'd say. Just to reduce confusion.

[This message has been edited by wbriggs (edited February 02, 2007).]


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priscillabgoo
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I thing I agree with you on the rushing forward, but I feel like I should mention this is a flash piece. So, a lot needs to be said in a short while. I guess I need to find a better balance.

Basically similar scenes get played out over the course of three days until Rebecca is forced to do something about it.

Would it help if you knew initially that she was really annoyed by her children (especially since they don't seem sad just interested in what there is to gain)?.

[This message has been edited by priscillabgoo (edited February 03, 2007).]


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Survivor
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We get that they're annoying her. I think that you'll have real trouble making each of the scenes subtly but meaningfully different if they're all this short. Overall the concept of doing a large number of highly similar scenes might not be well suited to a flash piece.
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Sara Genge
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Start with the dialogue, then work in the info of her husband just dying.

An opening line with:
"Well, the house sure seems empty without dad," sayed C1, shaking his delicately combed hair with concern. Ok, it's crappy but you get the idea, it's informative, and gets the juices flowing.


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Survivor
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Yes, the info in that first paragraph can come out easily enough in dialog. And an all dialog flash has a certain appeal. It gets difficult to follow if you have multiple scenes and more than two characters, though.

Perhaps if you just used a separator between scenes, and had two character per scene till the last scene where the two kids are essentially treated as a single entity? Don't know if that would work.


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mayhews
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You asked for suggestions on how to make it more "dynamic." Rather than give general comments, I will focus on that question. I agree it seems a bit sterile. A few things to consider:

1. The first paragraph describes the background, summarizes Rebecca's expectations and foreshadows that they will be frustrated. Look for a more active and tantalizing way to convey this without just coming out and stating it. [Off-the-cuff Example: Rebecca produces a cherished photograph of David as a young man in his WW II uniform; Ruby accidently spills her espresso on it.]

2. The second paragraph reports a conversation that occurs between two women sitting across from each other in the parlor. If you are looking for dynamic, the deck is already stacked against you.

3. "Dynamic" implies action, so consider the list of verbs you used (converted to infinitive):

die think come settle provide turn(out) have sit say reply push be be decide suppose smile arrive be be

For comparison purposes, here is a list selected from 13 lines of a story published in 1958 by one of my favorite authors:

start flee fall crunch laugh pant climb try utter perform disperse make watch consist remember

Best wishes!

[This message has been edited by mayhews (edited February 11, 2007).]


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