This is topic Not sure where this is heading in forum Fragments and Feedback for Short Works at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by trailmix (Member # 4440) on :
“I like the way Mom makes them better,” Emma said while picking at her plate with a fork that seemed too big for her tiny hand.

“I know honey, me too.” Jacob’s eyes misted at the mention of his wife.

“When is Mom coming home?”

“I need to talk to you about something baby.” Jacob had rehearsed this conversation a hundred times in the 3 days since the rigid Army Sergeant in the dress blues had delivered the envelope. Laura’s body was on its way back from Fallujah. The funeral was on Saturday, color guard, 21 gun salute, the whole nine yards. Emma sat there staring the way she always did when she thought her parents had something serious to say.

“Your mom was in an accident.” That isn’t entirely true but he

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited July 17, 2010).]

Posted by jayazman (Member # 2818) on :
The writing seems fine. This so far is not a grabber for me. The single dad raising his child after the mom dies story has been done many times. The fact that it is the mom who died in the military instead of the dad is a little different, but not much. I might keep reading for a few more paragraphs, but it better get interesting or I would put it aside.
Posted by redapollo9 (Member # 9012) on :
The events and dialog in this opening are happening in what feels like a vacuum. I know I should care about the characters but at this point I don't know enough about them to feel any more sympathy towards them than I would feel towards total strangers who are going through the same thing. If the rest of the story was following this intro, I would probably read on just because it's an interesting scenario, but it might be more effective to spend a little more time letting your readers get to know your characters before you introduce the issue with the mom not coming back. My emotional response would be heightened greatly and I would feel a lot more connected to the story. Just a thought

Posted by walexander (Member # 9151) on :
Like the fork ,but lacks a certain fluid motion of a parent


"Mom's is better," Emma said while picking at the eggs on her plate.

Jacob watched her struggle to use a large fork with her small fingers.

"I like how mom makes them." She tried unsucessfully to bulldoze the eggs from the pancakes.

“I know honey, me too.” He said replacing her large fork for a small one so she could more easily divide the good from the bad. "Now eat your food."

'his eyes misted over' This statement simplifies to much what a parent feels at losing there partner or trying to explain to a child they will never see there mother again, It's an impossible task, and should be present as so. Explaining a loved ones death makes you feel like the words are just twisted inside you clutched around your heart and the only way to get them out is by ripping out your own heart. (Something like that.)

I think there's a better way to start this. Just an opinion though.


[This message has been edited by walexander (edited July 17, 2010).]

Posted by trailmix (Member # 4440) on :

I see your point but I think it best to build to that. I feel that the "eye's misted over" is a crack in the dam. We always try to be strong and we are usually successful at first but a crack in our resolve to hold the tears back is the first sign before the walls come tumbling down. I hope to more accurately paint that picture in the next few paragraphs.


Point well taken. I have some (hopefully) endearing dialogue in the next paragraph but perhaps I need something a bit sooner.

Givent the reaction thus far, this may not be the right place to start. Hmmm...

[This message has been edited by trailmix (edited July 17, 2010).]

Posted by walexander (Member # 9151) on :
I have trouble all the time at conveying an underlying trauma. Trying to show that crack in the armor is a hard thing to describe. You have picked a tough scene to convey in a few sentences, but I'm sure if you continue to really turn it over in your head you'll find that right combo.

When referring to 'misted eye's' this combo felt to me like a dad watches grandpa playing with the kids, or dad watches his daughter graduate. I'm just not sure if you want to use 'misted' to hint at the crack in his armor.

Like I said I'm just thinking out loud. Curious to see what you do with it.



Posted by JSchuler (Member # 8970) on :
I'd agree that misting eyes is too weak of a physical response. I think there needs to be something all encompassing from John's point of view, but something his daughter would easily miss as she's poking at her eggs:

"John's body froze at the mention of his wife..."

Additionally, I think his physical response should come before his verbal. He doesn't have time to think about the sudden onrush of emotion, so the emotional response is instantaneous. The words, however, are something that he is choosing very carefully, so there will be a delay.

Posted by trailmix (Member # 4440) on :
Okay. Yes, I see that. Thanks.

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