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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Cutting a Rug

   
Author Topic: Cutting a Rug
Jennywinnie
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Looking for readers for critique. Willing to trade reads. Also, comments on my first paragraph are greatly appreciated. This is a Literary Short at roughly 6000 words.

---

Clothes are funny things. Kind of like tortillas they wrap you, they artfully lie. Shouting ‘happy,’ ‘put together,’ ‘confident,’ ‘loved,’ they curl. They form a deceptively solid shape from a dripping mess--the contents inside. And like tortillas, clothes must be cared for. If a person grows lazy, their clothes go lazy too: floppy, worn, paper thin, an ugly piece of dough. What was at first pressed and fried to form a clever deception dissolves, revealing the truth of you for all the world.

Nudge.

The closet door slid open and the truth was clear. Faith Russel hadn’t cared about herself since before she was married.

Have to wear…have to wear…

Jeans of all sorts. T-shirts for house days, cleaning days, play

[ May 10, 2013, 12:55 PM: Message edited by: Jennywinnie ]

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Denevius
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You can probably cut out the first several lines of this or move them elsewhere and start the story with what seems like the actual conflict: "Faith Russel hadn't cared about herself since before she was married".

Everything else before that sentence feels like warmup writing.

Anyway, if you're up for swapping, I have two chapters of a novel I'm writing which are 7000 words, if that isn't too long for you. Email me if you're interested.

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extrinsic
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The opening paragraph feels like Faith addresses herself through close thoughts in second person. The symbolism of tortillas, food, and clothing, and her appearance being a mess held inside is strong and potentially allegorical, developing a theme for the story up front. Literary fiction audiences favor well-crafted theme openings. I think that is strong writing.

Two areas of concern for me, one; that the opening paragraph feels like it's from a disembodied mind, maybe a narrator's, maybe Faith's. Developing Faith's physical or external world within that introspective, internal paragraph might leaven in the scene's setting that emerges in the last three short paragraphs. That would I feel strengthen the opening appreciably.

The other area is grammar and punctuation. Literary fiction readers are sophisticated mechanical style fans. This sentence, for example: "They form a deceptively solid shape from a dripping mess, the contents inside." If a nonrestrictive dependent clause, "the contents inside" is not a complete clause from lack of a predicate or implied predicate. It is an appositive phrase possibly modifying "dripping mess." But it's a little vague as to the subject or object modified. Treatment would either add an implied predicate or a real predicate to the phrase, or change the punctuation, perhaps change the comma to an em dash. For example, "dripping mess—the contents [held] inside. "Held" being an intransitive verb (the predicate) usage.

This sentence and its following list demonstrates sophisticated punctuation artfully, like I mean: "If a person grows lazy, their clothes go lazy too: floppy, worn, paper thin, an ugly piece of dough."

These two sentences, however, use a period where a colon is indicated: "The closet door slid open and this truth was clear[:] Faith Russel hadn’t cared about herself since before she was married."

Also, those sentences switch to narrator voice. I feel the character voice, Faith's, has lost touch with her perspective and now orients on her from outside her perception. Then back to Faith's voice in the remainder.

I don't grasp the significance of "Nudge." Sentence fragments serve as a best practice as interjections of an exclamation nature—often understatement. Their context and texture comes from a setup for what they mean. Otherwise, their meaning is lost in translation. The "Nudge" I assume is a first glimpse into Faith's dawning realization she's let herself go and wants to do something about it. But I'm projecting meaning that I feel missed the page.

I do feel the last line is a closet inventory listing that will develop Faith's doubt and struggle and develop her character further, and further develop her dramatic complication; The opening paragraph imples that she knows she's a mess, which is a problem, and she wants to not be a mess, and is ready to take action. I think the thirteen lines is in strong shape, but not quite fully realized.

The Title, "Cutting a Rug" has strong implications of a desire to dance gracefully and adorably again. That's strong and feels to me relevant and significant without giving away the plot. Well and fully done if I'm projecting the theme properly.

I hope the food and clothing and appearance metaphor continues into the following part. The implications for symbolic connections between the three are profound. And I feel this is a New Feminism piece, portraying the unique life of Faith as a woman struggling with aging's complications.

[ May 08, 2013, 10:28 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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My biggest problems are the way you've handled the punctuation of the opening paragraph and the, apparent, switch of POV from narrator to middle-distance third person, and then, to my mind, to a first person POV.

It reads as 'stream of consciousness' stuff. What it doesn't do is ground me firmly, and I emphasise firmly, in character. I have an intimation of, as extrinsic says, the initial denial, then acceptance of ageing, but the words on the page don't 'tell' me much.

Phil.

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Jennywinnie
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Okay I see the confusion here. These are suppose to be in italics. Sorry for the confusion there!!

---

Clothes are funny things. Kind of like tortillas they wrap you, they artfully lie. Shouting ‘happy,’ ‘put together,’ ‘confident,’ ‘loved,’ they curl. They form a deceptively solid shape from a dripping mess, the contents inside. And like tortillas, clothes must be cared for. If a person grows lazy, their clothes go lazy too: floppy, worn, paper thin, an ugly piece of dough. What was at first pressed and fried to form a clever deception dissolves, revealing the truth of you for all the world.

Nudge.

The closet door slid open and this truth was clear. Faith Russel hadn’t cared about herself since before she was married.

Have to wear…have to wear…

Jeans of all sorts. T-shirts for house days, cleaning days, play

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pidream
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I can tell you put a lot of work into this but I think I agree with Denevius. The real story begins with.

The closet door slid open and this truth was clear. Faith Russel hadn’t cared about herself since before she was married.

What comes before is window dressing with no attribution; which, is confusing to me. It is light and fluffy like a tortillas but does not take me into the characters state of mind. The Faith Russel line is darker and doesn't IMHO fit well.

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Carl F
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In spite of what the others have said, I liked almost all of it. The one word I would find a substute for is 'dripping', maybe curdled, confused, mixed up.
I think I would start with the "The closet door... too, but put it in the first person, perhaps:

"As I opened the closet door, I realized that I hadn't cared about myself since before I changed my name to Faith Russel. I thought that clothes were funny things.....
Just suggestions.
Carl

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