Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Would You Read On? hosted by Diana Flegal

Please let us know if you would read on:

T

he family had a favorite saying about Suzanne, Matthew Schüler’s oldest child; only three things could make her cry; bad news, good news and no news. When they said it in front of her, even after Suzanne turned thirty, she would sometimes break down. But on the day her father, the maestro, scholar, and famous man, died, Suzanne shed not one tear. She stood close enough to take his withered hand in hers, close enough to whisper something if she had wished… She watched her father die, said nothing, showed nothing and stayed calm. (Her sister Kaitlin was fine too, but she always was.)

“You okay?” husband Harold asked, having wrapped an arm around her shoulders.

“I’m great,” Suzanne said softly. And she really was. Well, maybe not great but certainly in control; certainly holding up better than most of the others. Mother pulled the bed sheet up over Matthew’s head and it was over. Someone led the new widow away. Harold dropped his arm. Suzanne supposed that he, probably all of them, expected poor Suzanne to start wailing then, rend her garments like one of the Old Testament prophets her father liked to sermonize about, then collapse.

“Yes, great,” she whispered, and the truth of it pleased her.Suzanne’s mom, who, like her oldest daughter, seemed in surprising good shape too.


Thank you for stopping by. Your comments are a great help to the authors. So often the perspective gained here directs the tone and message of the final story.

Have a great Tuesday!



13 comments:

Timothy Fish said...

No, I get the feeling that this one isn't quite ripe. All this stuff about when Suzanne would normally cry is simply not needed, at all. It actually takes away from the statement that she didn't cry when her father died. It would be better to just say she didn't cry and then move on to why we're supposed to think that is important.

Anne Love said...

Sorry, no, I would not read on.

First, I had to re-read the first sentence several times to get whose POV we are in, and it felt like narration from the author, not the POV of the MC. Re-reading anything on the first page is a stopper for me--and probably any reader with ADD :o)

I think it could just start at the point when her father has died and she realizes her usual cry-me-a-river-state-of-being died with him and the reader wonders why?--but I'm still not sure that's enough conflict to make me read on. Is this really the basis of the main premise for the whole WIP? If there's a greater premise, let's hear it here on the first page, or at least hint more heavily about it.

Also, I'm turned off that her husband thinks of her as "poor Suzanne". It makes me think he's a wimp who can't see her real strengths, and ask why she would be married to a wimp? And to characterize her in this light makes me think she's weak, and most readers want a strong heroine. I find it unbelievable that the death of her father has suddenly created rock-like strength in "poor Suzanne".

With some polish and tweaking, it might still work, don't throw the baby out with the bath water! I recommend a crit group to help. :o)

Kathryn Elliott said...

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; I applaud anyone willing to subject their work for open critique in this forum. I’m not that brave.
That said - I have to agree with the above comments. This needs a little more work – maybe a good critique partner or writing group would help? Take it from me, the first critique packs a sting, but the rest build lots of honey!
Best of luck!

Jeanette Levellie said...

It's intriguing that she acted out of character for the Main Event of her father's death, but the story is not compelling enough to make me read on--sorry!

I agree with Ann. Take it to a crit group and have them help you spruce it up. You have talent in bud; it just needs some water and sunshine to help it blossom and come to fruition.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it needs work, but that doesn't necessarily mean I wouldn't read on. I'm intrigued as to why she didn't break down. I have a theory, and want to know if I'm right, or if I'll be surprised.

Mary said...

Yes please, I'm intrigued. Why is she in such good emotional shape after losing her father? What is going to happen next? Would love to know more. I too have a theory, but am I right?

Melissa K Norris said...

I would read on, but if the real conflict wasn't presented soon, I would stop. I agree with the others. We need to be deep in Suzanne's POV and we're not. We're told what she's feeling, but we don't feel it.
Two books on writing that have been so helpful to me is Deb Dixon's Goal, Motivations, and Conflict and Jame Scott Bell's Self-Revision and Editing.
There are some good things here, they just need some more refining. So keep at it!

Davalyn Spencer said...

I am reminded of the first time my husband proposed: I didn't want to say yes and I didn't want to say no (I was only 17)so I said, "Ask me again later." He did.

Unlike most of the commenters, I am not at all put off by the character's tearless response because, well, been there - done that. So I want to know more about her. However, it will take some tightening and polish to make the story readable. So, ask me again later.

Don't quit. You have a story.

Timothy Fish said...

Davalyn,

I don't think anyone is put off by the tearless response. Actually, it is quite typical for people who have recently experienced a loss to not cry right away or at all, even if that person cries at the drop of a hat. The problem is in the way it is presented. It seems like the whole page could be rewritten as:

When her cat died, Suzanne cried. When she graduated from college, Suzanne cried. When her father died, nothing, not a tear.

SunnySue said...

I would not read on, in the current format. But that doesn't mean that the story doesn't hold intrigue. A stronger hook is this: "When her dad died, Suzanne shed not a single tear."

The author is trying to give too much of an explanation in a single sentence. In the opening hook, she is trying to explain that Suzanne is Matthew Schuler's oldest child. This is useful information, but it's not a hook. Likewise the sentence "You okay?" husband Harold asked." Again, useful information, but awkwardly stated. Something like this would be better: "You okay?" Harold asked, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. I'm great, Suzanne told her husband. And she really was."

The idea is intriguing. I want to know what happened between Suzanne and her dad to make Suzanne blasé to his death. There is also some good writing demonstrated here. E.g. "Mother pulled the bedsheet over her husband's head and it was over." This is a strong statement and perhaps deserving of a paragraph of its own. The statement about OT prophets is also nicely done

I agree that this story could benefit greatly from the aid of a good critique group. But the story does hold intrigue. I hope this author will pursue writing this story, seeking the direction of some fellow writers in a critique group.

Millie Samuelson said...

The first sentence stopped me. But then because it's this blog, I read on. Had I been looking at the book in a bookstore, I probably would have put it down after the first sentence. I agree with some of the suggested revisions. . . But hey, author, remember you'll never please or hook every reader. So go with YOUR story "vision"! :-)

Anne Love said...

Kathryn, I agree, it takes guts to post here and even more guts to read all the comments. Honest critiques are both painful and very coveted. Honesty is required to help all of us become better writers, and none of us can improve if people tell us our shoddy work is "nice" and "great" when it's not.
But as a way of putting myself in the writer's shoes, I also posted my first page on my blog. I figure if I make a comment here, I should allow others that same opportunity to critique my work.

Sharon A. Lavy said...

The story has elements of interest. But it is not ready yet. So no, I would not keep reading this draft.