or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Archives › Miscellaneous › Mothers' Writing Group › W.I.P January
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

W.I.P January

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Happy new year everyone Post away with your works in progress
post #2 of 18
So, here's my current work. It's a piece of a novel ,so you're coming in well into things. I need to make Lisa's arguements more believable, more compelling. And her parents feelings more clear, but I'm not sure how.

I'm also open to any other critisism or advice.Desciptions and dialogue are hard for me! AS is 'showing' and not 'telling'.

Warning, one character swears and 'takes the Lord's name in vein". Not often. My mother would say the 'takes the ...' part!

About a half hour from her parents home, she pulled in at a rest stop to feed Angie and put her in a prettier outfit. For some reason it seemed important that the baby make a good impression, and she looked like a doll when Lisa was done, a mint green dress with bits of lace at the hem and collar, a matching bit of lace was tied in her hair, ruffled socks and white cloth shoes. All of the clothes were from the second hand store, but they were like new.

“It’s not like I don’t know what they’ll say,” she said softly to Angie as she straightened her dress and buckled her safely back into her seat. “Any fool knows what I should have done. And now I’m in trouble, Kiddo. I don’t know how to do all of this. Be a Mum, make enough money for us to live, there’s a lot to it.”

Large blue eyes, unblinking, knowing, stared back.

“They’ll say you need a good home, one with two parents and enough money. They’ll say I’m too young.”

She turned around and fastened her own seatbelt, pulled out into traffic, able to ignore the owlish stare better when she wasn’t faced with it, and grabbed a napkin off the seat beside her to blow her nose and rub her eyes. Must be that dust allergy acting up again.

When she pulled into the driveway, her father immediately stopped raking the leaves and started toward the car. Seconds later her mother appeared at the side of the house. She jumped out and nearly broke her neck trying to keep some distance between her parents and the car. Now that they were here, she wasn’t sure how to tell them about Angie. Just taking her out of the car seemed too abrupt.

After kissing and hugging them hello, she knew she couldn’t put it off any longer and said, “Hey, I have someone with me that I want you guys to meet.” She saw their puzzled expressions when they looked toward the car and didn’t see anyone there.

Walking over, she opened the back door and eased Angie out of her car seat. Her mother was at her side in an instant cooing, “Hi, Precious. What a sweet baby you are, huh? Aren’t you just a darling?”, holding her arms out to take her from Lisa the whole time. Angie stared enraptured at Margie’s face as she was carried into the house.

“Tea water’s on,” was all Margie managed as she hurried into the kitchen.
Lisa looked at her dad and they laughed, “I guess I’ve been replaced.”

“Guess so!” Ralph helped her get her bags and all of Angie’s stuff out of the trunk and they headed in for tea.

From the driveway, Lisa could smell her mother’s spaghetti sauce cooking. Her mouth was watering, TV dinners and canned soup just couldn’t compare.

Her mother poured their tea as they sat down, cooing and chattering to Angie the whole time. As soon as she sat down, Margie said, “Ok, Lisa. What’s with the baby?” No beating around the bush with Margie. Ralph would wait, bide his time until you were ready to talk. Not Margie. She wanted the facts and she wanted them now.

“Well, I’ve been watching her for a while.”

“How long a while?”

“Well, a few days.” This wasn’t going the way she had anticipated, she had envisioned sitting down after dinner or maybe tomorrow and her telling her story from beginning to end. Now her mother was asking questions that she didn’t want to answer without telling her how she got there.

“Mum, I’m starving. The smell of that sauce cooking is killing me. Do you think we could eat first and then I could explain?”

“Explain what?”

Oh-oh. Mum’s tone wasn’t patient and loving. More tell-me-now.

“Everything. The baby, my problem, why I’ve been eating TV dinners and canned soup for weeks, whatever you want to know. But I want to tell you from beginning to end, the whole story, ok?”

Neither of her parents looked very happy about waiting, but they agreed and while Ralph held Angie, she helped her mother set the table and get dinner on.

Her brother Rob came downstairs, his face blurred from sleep, just as they were getting ready to sit down to eat. In the last year, he’d grown 5 inches, and he didn’t seem to be slowing down any. When he wasn’t out with his friends, all he wanted to do was eat and sleep. When he saw Lisa his face lit up.

“Hey, Lisa, I didn’t know you were coming this weekend!” He came over and gave her hug before heading to the bathroom to wash up for dinner. It wasn’t until he’d had a few large mouthfuls of ziti, from a plate piled high with meatballs and cheese, that he even noticed Angie.

“Whoa,” he said around half a meatball, “whose baby?”

“I’m babysitting.”

Angie wasn’t going to sleep through something as important as dinner, she had her head on Lisa’s shoulder and her eyes were at half-mast, but she was keeping an eye on these strangers.

The meal was quieter than usual. Her parents were saving their talking for after dinner, and Rob was too busy eating to talk. After dinner, her father and Rob went to the attic to get the old playpen and set it up in Lisa’s room, while her mother cleaned up.

As soon as Angie was settled, and Rob had been sent to the store on his bike to get ice cream, Lisa sat down with her parents and began telling them about how she had come to be caring for a baby. Other than making sympathetic noises when she told them about Angie lying in the bottom of the shopping cart or gasping when Lisa told of her decision to leave the store, her parents were quiet, letting her tell the story her way.

As soon as she finished, though, it was their turn.

“What were you thinking, Lisa?” boomed Ralph. For a man who had little to say, he sure could say it loudly. “For the love of Jesus, have you lost your mind?! You can’t just decide to keep a baby. Any baby! You’ll go to jail!”
Looking to Margie for help, she realized that her mother was even more upset than her father.

“What is your plan?” began Margie. “You know, if you had come home and said you were pregnant, well, that would be hard, but you’d survive having a baby on your own.”

Lisa’s father made a strangling noise and sounded like he was having trouble breathing.

“But to just take someone else’s baby on, you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into! Damn it, Lisa! You had no right to take that baby out of the store. Up until that point you were just doing a nice thing, as soon as you took that baby home, you crossed a line! I don’t even know what to say.” Margie got up and stalked across the kitchen. “I’m making tea!” she said, slamming the tea kettle down on the iron burner.

Ralph had no such problems thinking of things to say and lit into her for all he was worth. Even Rob, returning from his bike ride, didn’t put a damper on Ralph’s tirade. Pausing only long enough to toss the ice cream on the counter and mumble, “Call me when you’re all ready to kiss and make up so we can have ice cream,” he ran to his room to hide out until the yelling was over.

It took a whole pot of tea before things in the kitchen cooled off enough for a rational discussion.

“You don’t just keep a baby.” Her father voice was patient and gentle, but an ugly purple vein pulsed in his forehead. “Why did you leave the store?”
“Because I didn’t want her to spend a weekend in the hospital, I hated to see such a tiny baby go into foster care, because I wanted to give her mother a chance to think. I thought I’d go back in the morning and she’d be there, pacing and panicking.”

“What could that girl be thinking, just going off and leaving her baby with a stranger like that?”

“Well, she didn’t throw her in a dumpster, or just leave her on the church steps,” Lisa mumbled in the girls defense.

“Right,” her father grumbled sarcastically, “real mother-material there. And you were going to give that baby back?”

“I thought she might have just had a bad moment, you know? Just freaked out and by morning she’d have realized what she’d done! And then, when she wasn’t there, I don’t know. I meant to call someone that Monday.” Tears began to well up and she tried to swallow them back, “but I just couldn’t do it, Dad.”

“Well,” Margie said dryly, “you’ll be doing it Monday morning. End of discussion, Lisa. There’s nothing else to say. You did what you did; there’s no changing that. It’s done. But now, you have to do what’s right. You’ll stay here and I’ll help you call,” she was pushing back her chair, argument over, “9 a.m., Monday morning.”

“Monday morning?!” Her father was incredulous.

“There’s no sense in calling now. It’s been weeks. At this point, what’s another few days?” Margie rubbed a finger along the vein in her husbands forehead. “Honey, relax. Please. If we call now, and there is legal trouble, Lisa will have to wait it out somewhere all weekend too. And not at the hospital.”

“Jesus H. Christ! Monday morning,” he yelled, “you call a lawyer, then child services. You understand me?” he yelled at Lisa. “Monday morning, lawyer, child services, no bullshit! Do you understand?”

“Dad, easy. I understand!”

“Don’t you ‘Dad, easy’ me! Make the damn call.” He turned toward his wife. “I’m going out, for a bike ride. In the dark.” It was the first time Lisa had ever seen him slam a door.

“I don’t know what you were thinking, Lisa!”

“The same thing I’m thinking now.”


Hoping her mother wouldn’t produce a pulsing vein, she went on hesitantly.

“I still don’t know if calling child services is best for Angie.”

“We’re not worrying about best, we’re worrying about legal.”

“I’m still worrying about best. What if I didn’t call? Please, Mum,” she implored at the look Margie shot her. “Please just listen. What if I did keep her. What if I was her mother. No one’s looked for her very hard so far. I’d need some help, I know that. But you said yourself that if I’d come home pregnant, I’d have survived it. Why not this?”

“Because this isn’t right! Go to bed, Lisa. I can’t take anymore tonight.”
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi Red, that excerpt makes me want to read the beginning to see what happened exactly, or is that the beginning?

Showing and not telling is hard, as is dialogue...some people have the gift, but I have trouble with it as well.

My impressions were that you could edit alot out of the story, such as the part about the second hand clothes store. That is a good opportunity to 'show' and utilize the senses in doing so.

When I'm stuck, I usually stop and do an excersise using my senses...all of them , ex/ I saw, heard, it smelled like...using colors that are more than just 'red' or 'white', but more specific shades.

I would've also liked to be shown more shock and more reaction when her parents saw the baby for the first time, you could almost cut out that dialogue as well. That would be a good place for more descriptive writing , such as the looks that registered on mothers face, the way father stepped back in defference to his 'overbearing' wife.

Also, I noticed that the word 'cooing' was used twice, maybe you could study the thesuarus and write out alot of descriptive words that have to do with the story , and let them sink into your vocabulary so you can use them (i often do that, sometimes as an excersise; I use the words to create a poem)

I also think Rob's dialogue before he left the room upon returning on his bike could've been left out.

I think stories can be told with minimal dialogue in most places, anyway, it's good practice...though I don't like my own dialogue.

Overall, I like the excerpt, it definately makes me want to know what happens, plus, I love a good twist (the way she found the baby) I would like to know more about how that came to be.

Thank's for posting, I hope others will offer their feedback.

post #4 of 18
Thanks Kelly! It's so good to get real info.

I've been told that dialogue is a good way to show and not tell, and that it would help round out my characters. So, I've been trying to use more. I may need to work on WHERE to put it, as well as what to say. I've been readin up on it and you can find an opinion from a pro that supports every position possible! (I'm soooo confused.)

I'd forgotten about the 5 senses!~ How you can forget anything so basic is beyond me, but there you go.

I'm having a great problem NOT catching when I'm overusing a word. I don't even hear that I"ve used it more than once. I really like your idea baout writnig them out, looking up alternatives. SOunds like a great task on those days I can't get motivated to write but want to put in 'my time'.

Thanks so much for the help. I'm gong to try and go back over just this piece, using what you've said, and see what kind of difference it makes.
post #5 of 18
There is quite a hook there. I have never read a story about a good-hearted kidnapper. Now I want to know more about what happened in the store, what will happen next, how she got through the first night of "babysitting".

I think if you do some more drafts you will have a great story.

One thing that is just an "IMO" was that the idea of her waiting until Monday seems ridiculous. Up until she had mom and dad, I could see being too scared to call someone, not wanting to give the baby up to foster care. But I just can't see her mom being the one to want to wait. As a mom, once I knew a child was safe, I can't imagine not doing everything in my power ASAP to let the childs mom know she/he was safe. That is probably just because I didn't get enough of the backstory, though. The shopping cart bit, but no real details.
post #6 of 18
I agree w/ pumpkinsmama; I don't see the mother just waiting to call. Maybe you could have Lisa beg for the weekend for a reprive, or maybe it's a small town and it wouldn't do any good to call on the weekend anyways...

I like the style and I think that the dialogue is in the right places, it just needs to be smoothed out. Get a partner or two and read it aloud, like a play. That works really well.

I think you do need to show more, just to give the whole thing more depth.

Like the pp's, I love the premise and can't wait to learn more about the story.

BTW, I've been thinking of posting my own story on here , but I don't know if there are any restrictions (genre, etc.).
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Wolfcat

BTW, I've been thinking of posting my own story on here , but I don't know if there are any restrictions (genre, etc.).
This is the place to post any genre you're working on. I hope you decide to post your story, remember to ask for the specific kind of feedback you want
post #8 of 18
I think begging might be in order!!! Good suggestions, all. I'm going to rewrite this week and try to post it next week, with it's improvements and see what you think. It's great having feedback and Ive NEVER had someone read that I didn't learn something from their comments.

I'm really interseted in what would cause another woman to leave with someone's baby. Sort of the closet kidnapper in me...YK, you see some kid NOT gettting any care, poor thing, and you think... :

I'll be posting the whole thing, in bits and pieces.

Thanks again, now I have some editing to do!
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
OOO Red, please repost and give up some of the backstory...a thumbnail sketch if need be, I'm so curious.

I'll do the same
post #10 of 18
In an effort to not make January look like my own special post, I've put the first two chapters up here.1st two chapters of Lost and Found

Please let me know what you think, I've given specific info I'm looking fo rat the top of the story.
post #11 of 18
I love it!!! I really got enthralled while reading, I think you have the beginnings of a best seller.
post #12 of 18

Proserpine III - Chapt 1 (Part 1)

I'm working on cleanup, so nitpicky, but encouraging feedback, please.

2263 C.E.
Almira winced as pain tore through her skull. She squinted as she forced herself to concentrate on keeping the Trainer-Second from falling. The T-S struggled against the invisible bonds, cursing loudly. Almira heard the hate and panic in the woman’s voice.
Almira’s fingers played across the opals around her neck. The half-dozen gems embedded in her flesh were dazzling. Each covered a microchip that was attached to and directly stimulated a major nerve. The pain returned.
"Crafter Almira, put Trainer-Second Soosa down." The commanding but gentle voice came from behind Almira. The young Crafter dared not take her silver-gray eyes from the royal blue of Soosa's jumpsuit hovering several feet above her head. The petite, black-haired Trainer-Second was glaring at her fiercely. It would serve her right if she were dropped.
Finally, Almira sighed and lowered Soosa to the floor. The T-S advanced, her dark eyes flashed with hatred. The voice behind Almira cut through the recycled air of the large plasteel room. "Trainer-Second Soosa, you are dismissed."
Soosa opened her mouth as if to protest. She hesitated, apparently rethinking her choices and, without uttering a word, stalked from the Spartan room. Almira turned, her own five foot tall, wiry body moving fluidly beneath the brick-red fabric of her own jumpsuit. She faced Trainer-Prime Tathy with only a small amount of remorse.
Tathy looked at Almira for a long moment with soft brown eyes that saw through the girl’s bravado. Tathy sighed. "You are right. Soosa will never make a good trainer. I will report to Administration about her."
Almira nodded, then glanced at the intricate bracelet on her Trainer’s wrist. The delicate silver links with attached rings speckled with blue quartz gems seemed to float on Tathy's hand. "Why did you Pain me then?" Her voice was a flowing high alto, too controlled for her fifteen years.
Tathy sighed. "Even if they deserve it, you cannot use your Craft on a Trainer. You know this."
Almira's hands drifted up to play with the gems again. "Soosa was going to whip me, for no reason other than hatred.” Her silver gaze moved to a large crop lying on the floor where Soosa had dropped it when Almira had swept her up into the air. It quivered a moment, reacting to Almira’s glare, then shattered like dropped glass. “She is filled with fear of Crafters; she wants to control them. That is why she wants to be a Trainer."
Tathy touched Almira's arm gently. "It won't happen again. You are one of the best and most well behaved Crafters I have ever worked with. You know your duty and your place. That is why I use you to teach Trainers. You are not to be abused.” She smiled. “But I have news for you. Come."
Almira caught an aura-scent of fear from the Trainer. It confused her. She was the only person in the room with her Trainer. She would never harm Tathy. The woman was the closest thing to a mother Almira had ever known. She suppressed her confusion and followed the tall, athletic woman out of the Training room to a computer terminal and watched curiously as Tathy brought up a screen. She scanned through it. "A mission roster? The Gaia Mission?"
Tathy nodded as she made a hard copy. "I don't know anything about it myself, except that it is a priority-one, high specialty, Linked mission."
Almira frowned at that. "I've never done a Linked mission."
Tathy smiled, brushing her own short, dark brown hair back from her eyes. "I know. You are really too young. I know you are fifteen, but Linking isn't allowed until the age of 21. They need someone younger though, because it is a Sleeper mission."
Almira searched her mind for the term. "The mission is in deep space. It will take years to get there."
"Yes, but you need to hurry. The briefing is in about an hour."
Almira made a hand-signal for departing, paused, and gave Tathy a quick hug. Almira felt oddly comforted by the unusual contact. Emotions she had not dealt with for a long time threatened to surface. She turned and ran out the door before Tathy could react, and before she could detect the Trainer’s emotional reaction.
"Good-bye, Almira," the woman said to the empty room.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
I love it, strong beginning, makes you want to keep going (I esp love the jewels embedded in her neck...dazzling )

It seems pretty polished to me, of course there is always something you could tweak, I couldn't find it though...I only read through it twice though.
post #14 of 18
I, too like the jewels. Very original.

I like the piece, very well done, no errors in grammar and the dialogue is interesting. Also, you do a great job of including descriptions, silver-grey eyes, etc.

One of my cp's recently told me that using a characters name a lot pulled the reader back, and using she or her, would help the reader to identify more with them. I don't know if it's true and yours sounds fine to me, but I thought I'd mention it.

Is this a finished novel? Have you sent it out at all???

OH! pumpkinsmama, thank you! Now if only YOU were an agent. Or a publisher. *sigh*
post #15 of 18
It is technically a finished novel, in the sense that I have all the main parts. But it's about half done in terms of word count and maybe slightly better in terms of what I want in it. I've got a bunch of stuff that needs to be in it, to flesh out characters, as well as the plot.

Thank you. The first chapter is, of course, the most polished, but I think the rest will follow. I actually have a more recent version of this chapter at home (hand written), but I may have more of a chance to update my "online version".

I sent a sample to one agent and got a fairly positive response, but that's as far as I got. My inspiration (or confidence) is pretty cyclical about my writing.
post #16 of 18
YK, as someone with an envelope full of rejection letters, if I had a "positive response", I'd be finishing that baby and sending it off!

My goodness, I'm having palpitations just thinking about it!
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Red
YK, as someone with an envelope full of rejection letters, if I had a "positive response", I'd be finishing that baby and sending it
post #18 of 18
I'm putting together a group of stories about my youngest sister. Not sure how to end this. I just did it, and would like help getting to the bones of it, finding the ending, making it better in any way!

Is it too much 'telling' and not enough 'showing'?

Anyone feel like joining me and Sue next week for a shoppping trip? You won't be bored!


I race down Nantasket Ave, heart pumping, legs burning. Cars whiz past just a foot from the curb. My eyes dart and search.

There! Just ahead! A woman holds her front door open, panic and confusion clear on her face.

I hate this part. Of all the stuff I ever have to do, this is my least favorite thing. But every minute that passes is another minute that disater can strike. I plunge ahead.

"Sorry!" I mutter, loud enough to be heard, soft enough to show my embarrassment. This is one of the worst. There is a small community of old-world Italian families in town; the kind that send to Italy for their brides. This woman, who has lived in town at least 20 years, speaks almost no English.

Without a word of welcome, I run through her front door, through her living room. A man stands in the kitchen, holding a glass of beer, a surprised look plastered on his face. Since he's staring at me, I know to run the other way, down the hallway, peeking in each bedroom as I go.

In the last bedroom, a woman's shoes lay scattered about the floor. Platforms, spikes, sneakers, sandals, pumps, all in a heap.

That's all I need to see. I continue at break-neck speed, back through the kitchen.

"Sorry!" I yell to the still dumbstruck man. No one ever tries to stop me. No one ever calls the police.

Out the back door, down the stairs. The yard is fenced in. I start for the front gate when I spot a small opening in a corner of the chain-link. Ah-ha!

I can't fit through the space, so I climb over. I'm screaming now. One word, over and over, as I search for another open door, another confused face.

"Susie! Susie! Susan!"

My brothers and sisters have split up. One ran the two blocks to the beach, another the 3 blocks to the bay. Although she swims like a fish, it's srping, the water is about 40 degrees. The other siblings are all searching the neighborhood, banging on doors, checking the other streets. I wish I could alert them to the fact that she's in this direction, but this is in the day before cell phones, I can only run.

Sue isn't trying to make us crazy. She just doesn't think. She's compulsive. A thought siezes her and she runs with it. Literally.

I met Sue when I was 16 and she was 5. My parents were foster parents for the state, though they usually took teens. Sue was, according to the two social workers it had taken to bring her to us, (our first missed clue) "possibly a little hyperactive."

In fact, Sue has Cerebral Palsy, severe hyperactivity with ADD, and has an IQ of under 40, putting her in the severely developmentally disabled range.

But don't try telling her any of that!

As a kid, she took weekly swimming lessons at the 'Y', went to a special gymnastics class, ran in the Special Olympics. Even as an adult she continues to try new things, things she 'can't' do, like take private ballet lessons.

She has a boyfriend. Sometimes they meet at a dance, some evenings they talk on the phone, or have dinner together. Not alone! Sue is never, ever without an able adult to keep her safe and watch over her. She still believes that traffic will stop for her if she steps off the curb. And so far, it always has, but...She also loves to take a walk, and if the staff aren't interested, she'll be happy to go alone.

I never got a haircut or a new sweater that she didn't notice. When my eldest was little, Sue would lay on the floor and let her try and crawl over her. If the baby accidently hurt her, she would call one of us to help her, but wouldn't even roll over, or try to move.

When I was a teen, still chasing her as she fulfilled her shoe fetish, she'd sit on my lap and call me "G-babe". Profoundly deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other, if you turn the radio on, she 'sings' along. The tune and the words don't matter, so long as you sing loud.

If she's lucky enough to be doing that singing in the car, and if the day is pleasant, she rolls her window down and sings to the pedestrians. Ah, and let a man she considers 'cute' walk by!

"Hey, you! Cutie! Here! Look here!" Smooching noises and lots of waving ensue as she tries to catch their eye. "Man! Yoo-hoo! Come 'ere! See sister? Jean! You cute! Wanna ride? Aww, come on!" It's amazing how long some red lights last.

"He nice, huh? Woo-hoo! Cute, right, Jean? Get coffee? Happy meal?" At least her attention span in short and she's easily distracted.

I saw the insides of all of our neighbors houses. Sometimes they weren't even home! Sue kept us all in shape, active, alert. One time she managed to go over 4 miles, across big streets, through an amusement park, around teh town dump, before a lady found her and called the cops.

And always, when we'd find her, she'd say "Hi! I went out! See shoes?"
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Mothers' Writing Group
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Archives › Miscellaneous › Mothers' Writing Group › W.I.P January