Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » A Better Life

   
Author Topic: A Better Life
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is a story I am reworking. Could you tell me if this opening hooks?


quote:
Dr. Jean Kenzy twirled her pen and studied the man who sat on the couch: well built, confident, polite, and had eyes that gave her butterflies when they locked onto her own. On the leather chair sat a large, rotund woman holding her hands in her lap. Her bottom lip stuck out in a pout on her pudgy face. Where the man intrigued her, the woman gave Jean the willies.
“I am a child psychologist, Mr. Duchey. I don’t usually see couples.”
“Please call me Joe,” he said to Jean. “And thank you for making this exception. Doris needs your help. She has lost faith in herself, our marriage, and family. She lost part of the woman she once was. I want that part to come back, she is incomplete without her other half.”

Second version

quote:
Doctor Jean Kenzy pressed on the seams of her red, knee length dress. Without thinking, she undid the top button, unveiling an unprofessional amount of cleavage.
Why did I just do that? Her hand drifted back up to refasten the button, but hesitated. It’s not that bad. A small part of her asked why she needed to impress this shumuck. Another part wanted this man to know how much of a success she had become.
Jean rarely did marriage counseling sessions but Joe Dutchey wouldn’t take no for an answer. He sounded so desperate and acted as if she were the only one that could help. Something about his voice seemed so familiar, so alluring, and yet so needy.


[This message has been edited by snapper (edited December 05, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited December 05, 2008).]


Posts: 3072 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
tngcas
Member
Member # 8018

 - posted      Profile for tngcas           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It is interesting but I am confused because it doesn't explain why the exception was made and why Doris' loss of faith in the marriage has anything to do with a child therapist, seems like that would be something for a marriage counselor.

It seems like you were going somewhere with the idea of her losing part of herself but I am more confused than intrigued.

Hope that helps!


Posts: 26 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
BenM
Member
Member # 8329

 - posted      Profile for BenM   Email BenM         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
> “I am a child psychologist, Mr. Duchey.
For me, the hook lacks an explanation or motive for why she has made an exception to see them, or why she might continue to see them - ie how their situation is sufficiently different to warrant Jean's attention.

If Doris' pout is hinting at something child-like, perhaps I just need to be hit between the eyes with it; pulling out a pacifier or some other symbol of the uniqueness of her problem might keep me going.

without her other half
I am more intrigued by the implications of this than the rest of the hook, but perhaps I'm reading into it something that isn't there simply because I was forced to stop there and it subsequently caught my attention. Is it a sly self-reference to Joe?

<disclaimer: my first critique should be accompanied by a BIG grain of salt>


Posts: 920 | Registered: Nov 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
alliedfive
Member
Member # 7811

 - posted      Profile for alliedfive   Email alliedfive         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is a case of the 1st thirteen raising almost too many questions. I feel like I don't know enough to know if I care. Maybe if the wife's condition was spelled out a little more it would be better.

A couple nits:

Dr. Jean Kenzy twirled her pen and studied the man who sat on the couch: well built, confident, polite, and had eyes that gave her butterflies when they locked onto her own.I would have liked a paragraph break here

On the leather chair sat a large, rotund I think "large" and "rotund" are close enough to be redundant. Maybe just pick one.

Her bottom lip stuck out in a pout on her pudgy face.Had to read this one twice. I think its the "stuck out in a pout" rhyming thing. Maybe just "Her bottom lip jutted from a pudgy face."--thats terrible, but you get the idea.

Where the man intrigued her, the woman gave Jean the willies.why? I think you could say what trait was disturbing without going into too much detail

I want that part to come back, she is incomplete without her other half.” I think you could just say "it" instead of "her other half" and it would flow more like dialogue.

[This message has been edited by alliedfive (edited December 02, 2008).]


Posts: 323 | Registered: Feb 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Yufae
Member
Member # 8346

 - posted      Profile for Yufae   Email Yufae         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It hooks. I don't think it raises too many questions, though I do think you should be prepared to answer a few of them right away, to keep the reader interested.
Posts: 33 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
InarticulateBabbler
Member
Member # 4849

 - posted      Profile for InarticulateBabbler   Email InarticulateBabbler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey, snapper. Here's My take:
quote:

Dr. Jean Kenzy twirled her pen and studied the man who sat on the couch: well built, confident, polite, and had eyes that gave her butterflies [when they locked onto her own<--Don't need this.]. On the leather chair sat a large, rotund woman[A different woman? If so what leather chair?] [holding<--[Maybe: with] her hands in her lap. Her bottom lip stuck out in a pout on her pudgy face[Maybe: There was a pout on her pudgy face]. Where the man intrigued her, the woman[So it is another woman.] gave Jean the willies.
“I am a [child<--[Maybe emphasize this?] psychologist, Mr. Duchey. I don’t usually see couples.”
“Please call me Joe,” he said [to Jean<--We would've assumed this.]. “And thank you for making this exception. Doris needs your help. She has lost faith in herself, our marriage[,<--[Nix.] and family. [She lost part of the woman she once was.<--This is getting a bit redundant.[/b]] I want that part [to come<--IMHO - cut.[/b]] back[, she is incomplete without her other half<--[IMHO - cut, unless there is a "literal missing half".].”

I don't see a speculative element, unless the end part I mentioned has something to do with it. However, trimming this will get you closer to it, maybe--eh?

I hope this helps.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited December 02, 2008).]


Posts: 3682 | Registered: Jan 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thank you everyone, very much.

This is an old WotF submission that needs 2500 words trimmed to get it under a word ceiling for a separate contest. If anyone is interested...

http://onthepremises.com/index.html

It's a publication that is like a mini-WotF. Only it's open to all writers, you must have a story that fits their premise, and they give money to their Honorable Mentions.

If anyone else is interested, perhaps we could start another group.


Posts: 3072 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
C L Lynn
Member
Member # 8007

 - posted      Profile for C L Lynn   Email C L Lynn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A child psychologist agreeing to see a couple damages the opening's believability, I'm afraid. I agree with the other critters here that a STRONG reason for bringing Doris to a child psychologist needs to be given, or I'd put the story down here, while scratching my head.
Posts: 226 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I axed the child psychologist. I need to trim as many words as possible.

Above is a new version

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited December 05, 2008).]


Posts: 3072 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
C L Lynn
Member
Member # 8007

 - posted      Profile for C L Lynn   Email C L Lynn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Oh, yeah, I like this. Believable. And the doctor's inner turmoil and confusion would definitely keep me reading.

The "It’s not that bad" has me a bit stumped though. Showing cleavage isn't that bad as in "immoral" or in that her cleavage looks pretty good or what? The fact that she hesitated, IMO, leads well enough into the "A small part of her..." sentence, so maybe cut her second inner thought?


Posts: 226 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tiergan
Member
Member # 7852

 - posted      Profile for Tiergan   Email Tiergan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Much better. Strong POV and set quickly. Instantly we are let into her mind.

And cleavage, tis' never a bad thing.

My only true nit is confusion here over the rules. I for some reason feel "Without thinking" is a POV violation if you are going for her POV, but I like it, and I think it reads better with it.


Posts: 1165 | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyraxis
Member
Member # 7990

 - posted      Profile for Pyraxis   Email Pyraxis         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I disagree on the cleavage. I was hooked by the first one - I'm a sucker for psychology - but the second immediately turned me off. It made me think that the story would be more about sex than the mind, and demonstrated that Jean Kenzy was unprofessional enough that I couldn't respect her. Surely if she's already off guard and trying to impress the "shmuck", and getting the idea she's the only one who can help (big red flag!) - and it's just the initial interview - she should refer them both to a colleague and run in the opposite direction.

In the first version I was curious why the woman gave her the willies, since nothing in the description of her (large, rotund, pouting, pudgy?) implied threat or unease. That was one of the more interesting bits. The overbearing guy feels kind of cliche.


Posts: 188 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2