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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » unfinished ghost story

   
Author Topic: unfinished ghost story
redapollo9
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Berry realized that Adele was nothing like the wife. No gait or thick waist, no scar where she’d slipped and hit her head on a hot cookie sheet, no thorough cackle when she thought that something was funny but not funny enough.
Adele moved around tables with grace and speed, sweeping up plates and tips while Berry watched her from the bar. She was silent in all the spots where the wife couldn’t shut up. She had bite where the wife was soft and gummy. She made him hate that the wife was waiting at home every night.
Berry imagined what Adele would look like in twenty years. He couldn’t picture any of the wife’s flaws ever cropping up in her. Something about her seemed incorruptible.
He ordered a glass of cranberry juice and drank it while he thought her over.

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Grayson Morris
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I like this very much. Good details. I love "She had bite where the wife was soft and gummy."

My only criticism is on "No gait" -- everyone has a gait of some kind, don't they? So I'd suggest an adjective, or a different word. "No limp" or "No plodding gait" or something like that.


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sojoyful
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Nice opening. Very clear characterization, and there's already potential tension.

"no scar where she’d slipped and hit her head on a hot cookie sheet" tripped me up, because I couldn't get the image to work in my head. How do you hit your head on a cookie sheet while falling? My cookie sheets are usually either on the counter or in the oven. Did she hit her head on the stove? On the counter? Or did she fall on the floor, and then the cookie sheet fell off the counter onto her head?

The first use of the wife intrigued me. I thought it signified something, like that maybe there's only one wife for all men to share. However, once I realized it didn't mean anything out of the ordinary, seeing it over and over was annoying. Since he's referring to his own wife, just use his.

"Something about her seemed incorruptible." Heh heh. I like what you're implying about the MC's intentions here. He's deliciously despicable. This sentence would be even lovlier with a little more punch: "She was incorruptible."

I'm wondering about Adele's age, because it will dramatically affect how I feel about the MC. If she's 25, I can't wait to find out what this potential cheater will decide to do. But if she's 14, I might revile him more (unless it's not unusual in his culture). Then again, if he's also 14, I will be intrigued again, because I'll wonder why he's married so young, and why he's got a 34 year old wife that he already doesn't like. I don't think you have to answer all that within the first 13, because you already have a sufficient hook. But you'll need to address it soon.

Lastly, the cranberry juice was a nice touch. I totally expected him to order either alcohol or coffee, but now he's more interesting.

[This message has been edited by sojoyful (edited November 08, 2010).]


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NoTimeToThink
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I like the opening overall, and there's a clear voice.
I have a (slight) fear that I'm making assumptions about the nature of the story because it's spec. If this was a non-spec story, I would think there's just an unhappily-married guy in a bar getting ready to cheat with a waitress. Because it's spec, I'm wondering if Adele is actually an earlier model of his wife (cloning or manufacture.) I'm not sure if there's anything you've put there that caused this, except the mention of all the things that have happened to "the wife" but not to Adele (yet?)
Interesting enough now that I would continue reading, with a slight chance that I will find the story is more mundane than I'm anticipating.

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Grimwood
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I like it. It's punchy and the voice is strong but I agree with sojoyful the repeated use of 'the wife' is annoying. In fact, I'm wondering if you need to mention the wife again so soon after he imagines what she will look like in twenty years. I get that he's admiring this waitress, and that she is everything his wife is not. Personally I would change tact after this point even if the comparison to his wife is central to the piece.
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redapollo9
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thanks for the comments.
@ Grayson: good call on the word 'gait'
@ NTTT: i was thinking the same thing. but i eventually brought a ghost into the story to (hopefully) make it more interesting
@ sojoyful and grimwood: i can see now how the repetition of 'the wife' would get annoying. I'll have to work on that.

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Bent Tree
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To me this was very refreshing. I enjoyed the theme and style and I would definitely read on based on this. I want to point out something I first noticed in my own writing, and the subject of hours of toiling through text of other writers. Go through and count (he/she/i/it/the) especially sentences beginning with them. By establishing a strong paragraph subject these can be eliminated for more effective prose. I wish I could delve a little deeper but my only internet is my blackberry and it is really hard to type. Don't take this the wrong way. I really like style and tone of this piece and feel good about its appeal.
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redapollo9
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Thanks, Bent Tree. That's something I've also noticed about my writing, and its always irritated me when I read my own stuff. It's like I start every other sentence with he/she/it.
I just really need to try to be more aware of that when I'm writing.

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