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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » First 13 POSTPARTUM 1400 words

   
Author Topic: First 13 POSTPARTUM 1400 words
LeetahWest
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Based on the title you may have guessed that this is primarily for a female audience. If anyone is interested in reading the whole thing and giving me a thorough critique I would be appreciative.

I am mostly trying to see if this is enough to get you interested, or if I need to sharpen the hook.

Also, do you have any idea what the story is about from these lines?

Thanks for your time!

I look into the visor mirror of the our minivan. Dark circles, unplucked brows, and no makeup. At least my hair is done. I couldnít go to a salon with my husband to get his hair cut if mine wasnít presentable. The hairdressers will always have their hair done nicely. I need to at least be a good candidate for my husbands attention when compared to those ladies. But they didnít just have a baby either. Their stomachs arenít sagging and they donít have stretchmarks that start at their breasts and end at their knees. Baby Lilly is only five months old, but I donít look any better than I did when I first came home from the hospital.
As we enter the salon the lady at the desk gets our information then motions to one of the ladies standing at an unoccupied station.


EDITED TO ADD:
Ok here is the first revised version.

I look into the visor mirror of our minivan, a homely stranger stares back. Dark circles, unplucked brows, and no makeup. I let out a sigh of resignation and flip the visor closed. My husband gets out of the car and takes the babyís carrier out. He seems completely oblivious that there is anything wrong here. This is going to be a disaster.
Stepping out of the car I reluctantly follow him. Why did I have to insist on coming with him? I look like crap and Iím walking into a den of sirens, women who actually have time to put themselves together before they leave the house. I donít want to go in there. I can always take Lilly and go home, come back and pick up the hubby when he is done. The babysitter has already been paid though, and only having one kid attached to me instead of four feels like freedom.


[ January 12, 2012, 09:14 PM: Message edited by: LeetahWest ]

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Dame
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Hi,

I'm afraid I didn't find this interesting. I'm not female, but to me that isn't the problem. The opening dilemma of the MC is to look good at a hairdresser's and that isn't enough for me. I also found it a little depressing, as the MC seemed to mainly be complaining about her lot and feeling sorry for herself.

The story would seem to be about her relationship to her husband - whether she captures his interest or decides she doesn't need to, I can't tell. If there is a speculative element to this story, and you want to sell it to a spec market, you may have to suggest this somehow in the first 13 - especially if it is for WOTF or the mainstream pro markets.

Damon Shaw

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shimiqua
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I'd be happy to read. I have a six month old, and the prose felt like the running commentary in my head.

My only suggestion is to break up the sentences into different paragraphs. Something like this...

I look into the visor mirror of the our minivan. Dark circles, unplucked brows, and no makeup.
Sigh. Are you looking through my computer screen?
At least my hair is done. phew. if you looked through my computer screen you'd see my hair is not done. So we're good.
I couldnít go to a salon with my husband to get his hair cut if mine wasnít presentable. The hairdressers will always have their hair done you have done three times in a row. You might consider changing one, probably this last one, to styled, or curled, or... whatever it is people who do their hair do to their hair. nicely. I need to at least be a good candidate for my husbands attention when compared to those ladies.
But they didnít just have a baby either. Their stomachs arenít sagging and they donít have stretchmarks that start at their breasts and end at their knees.
Baby Lilly is only five months old, but I donít look any better than I did when I first came home from the hospital.
As we enter the saloncomma the lady at the desk gets our information then motions to one of the ladies standing at an unoccupied station.

Good luck,
~Sheena

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LeetahWest
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Thanks Dame, I really wasn't certain of the start myself. The depression is purposeful, hence the name of the piece. I needed a fresh set of eyes on it to let me know it's still too blah. It is much appreciated.

I also didn't peg the point of the story in the first 13 either, by your assessment. That to me is a larger problem. I think if I can fix that, then I it will perhaps be more interesting as well.

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LeetahWest
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Thanks shimiqua. You (and other mothers with newborns) are my target audience on this piece, so your assessment made me smile. I still want to deal with some of Dame's points as well.
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Lloyd Tackitt
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Wow - that really was a gritty picture of depression. Which would make me stop right there because it would be no fun to read. For me that is.
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Dame
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I'll keep an eye out for rewrites and try to provide some more positive feedback next time. [Smile]

Perhaps humour might help? I find it a lot easier to take people being negative if they are funny or self depreciating about it. You might find it helps to make her a more attractive protagonist if her comments on her unattractiveness are a little exaggerated or wry.

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Daniel_W
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Hey there [Smile] .

Well, as a guy, I can't relate too directly to how she's feeling, but I'm no stranger to the 'oh my God, I can't possibly interact with people when I look like a cadaver; everything is wrong and this will be a disaster and I should just go home and hide inside my duvet and never come out again until I die' brand of insecurity [Razz] .

As such, I think the revision works much better than the original. Only thing I'd say is that I actually liked the opening lines better the way they were before. I'd keep 'I look into the visor mirror of the our minivan. Dark circles, unplucked brows, and no makeup. At least my hair is done', because I think it has a good rhythm and voice to it, and then go straight into 'I let out a sigh of resignation...'.

Still, I think Dame and Lloyd Tackitt have a valid point - you can't sustain a reader's interest on misery alone. I would have stopped at the original. I'd read on for a bit with the revision, because I like the voice, I relate to her a bit more, and there is a suggestion that something is going to happen in the salon. My advice would be to cut the lines 'I can always take Lilly and go home, come back and pick up the hubby when he is done. The babysitter has already been paid though, and only having one kid attached to me instead of four feels like freedom.' and go straight into the salon, so that whatever is about to happen can happen. That way, you've not used your entire 13 on portraying the depression, and you can always insert info about Lily and the other babies later on. Indeed, it teases out the question of 'why is this woman so run-down' a little longer if we don't now about them straight away.

Sorry I can't offer you a full crit at the moment, but I hope that these thoughts were helpful.

Daniel.

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LDWriter2
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Hmm, first time reading both versions. I read the revised one first and after reading the first one I was a bit disappointed that he was going in for just a hair cut. I was wondering why hubby would be doing alone with some sirens.... and I was thinking along the lines of salesman or checking something out. But I usually don't think of hairdressers as sirens even though I can see how your MC might under the circumstances.

One other hand that is a pretty normal event, and I wonder when the fantasy or SF part comes into play. I would assume it's soon so I would keep reading to see what happens to them.

My thoughts are: He gets killed and she spends the rest of the story trying to go back in time and save him or she is a witch-mage-wizard and has to use her powers to stop something.

But it's probably neither.

Anyway, besides the part of the sirens and that she thinks it will be a disaster even though she will be in the back ground, I think it's a nice set up. It's full of emotion and the descriptions are good. But at the same time something better happen quickly since there doesn't seem to be a hint of any trouble or what is to come.

Can't think of anything else to say.

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