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#1 of 16 Old 08-25-2006, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My name is Kim and I am working on a novel. I was wondering if anyone would like to critique my first chapter. I will post it here:


Chapter One

Jill arrived home from work almost an hour early. It had been a long, frustrating day and she was looking forward to a hot bath before her husband was due home. She turned the key of their expensive, Tudor style house they had both worked hard for and put off having children to be able to afford. After dealing with arrogant doctors and overworked nurses all day long in the hospital in which she worked as a midwife, all she wanted was some relaxation, a quiet dinner, and hopefully a leisurely lovemaking session before falling into an exhausted sleep, blotting out the disaster that occurred with the toxemic patient that afternoon.
She walked upstairs to their bedroom, unbuttoning her blouse as she plodded up the stairs. She walked down the hall to their bedroom casually opening the door and was shocked by what she saw. Her husband was in bed with another man. The man was kissing her husband’s body, lower and lower, while her husband moaned in ecstasy as this much younger man’s mouth reached his penis. She stood there stunned, unable to breath or move, while her mind remained disbelieving of the images her eyes and ears perceived. She tried to speak, to pinch herself as if to awaken from a nightmare. Finally, she managed to squeak out her husband’s name. Robert?’
Robert’s eyes flew open. The nameless man leapt off the bed as if shot out of a cannon. “Robert!” she said again, this time louder and full of indignance. Robert’s face turned first blood red then sheet white. The other man quickly grabbed his clothes and ran from the room almost knocking Jill over as he fled. She heard the front door slam, as Robert sagged onto the bed with a look of guilt and resignation on his face. Anger took over as she walked briskly to the bed to confront her husband. She looked with disdain at his naked body, his rapidly fading erection, furious beyond belief at what had shattered her hopes, her dreams, their whole life.
“What the HELL is going on here? Who the hell was that? What.. .how. . Oh my God...” Jill collapsed to the floor, covering her face with her hands, shaking all over.
“Jill. Honey, I’m so sorry. 1 didn’t know how to tell you.. I’ve been so confused.” Robert’s voice broke as he looked at his wife huddled on the floor. “I’m sorry honey, please, come here.”
“Don’t touch me! Put your fucking clothes on and get the hell out of here. NOW!”
Robert got up and started getting dressed. “I love you,” he said sadly. “I didn’t want to hurt you. I was hoping I could stop, that I could change.” He stood up and put his wallet back into his pocket and put his glasses back on. “I’m gay. I’ve always been gay. But I do love you, and I love the life we’ve built together. I don’t want it to end. I don’t think I can live without you. I need you so much...” Robert looked pleadingly at his wife, tears flowing down his face, while she refused to look at him, averting her gaze to the four post mahogany bed that was now tarnished, the lamps and pictures they had chosen together, the lace curtains only recently hung on a Saturday afternoon full of laughter and hope. That was gone now, destroyed forever.
“Please,” she said quietly, “just leave.”
“I’ll be at the hospital,” he said quietly as he walked out the door.
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#2 of 16 Old 08-25-2006, 11:39 PM
 
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Hi Kim,
I am new here too, so I just want to say welcome!!!

I have read your first chapter and it seems a great start. I don't know how long you are intending your book to be, but for me, it was a little short? I wonder if maybe extending their communications a little more; where she tells him to get out, perhaps make more of not being able to speak? I don't know that I would be able to say anything for a while, so milking that and telling us her inner feelings??? or allowing the reader to get to know Jill a bit more before she gets to the bedroom might be worth a thought? I dunno - I am a novice, just telling it how it suits me. Otherwise, I really want to know what happens next............
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#3 of 16 Old 08-26-2006, 01:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The reason the first part is so short is that I then go back in time to when they first meet. The whole book will go by before the first chapter is revisited.

But thank you for you input.

Do you want the next chapter?
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#4 of 16 Old 08-26-2006, 08:04 AM
 
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Ah, that makes sense!!! Yeah, put up the next chapter - like I said, I am not an experienced writer, but I AM an experienced reader !!! I am even more intrigued now as to what happens next. I like books that jump back - I think it often makes for a more thrilling read as you kind of know what is going to happen but not why, rather than the other way around!
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#5 of 16 Old 08-26-2006, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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PAGE MISSING-will try to rewrite

Jill and Robert met at the hospital Christmas party. Jill was a labor/deliver nurse, and Robert was the head resident of pediatrics. She saw an extremely handsome man with brown hair and blue eyes standing alone by the buffet.
"Hi, I’m Jill," she said, introducing herself.
"I'm Doctor Sheffield," he said looking around, trying to find a way to extricate himself from what he knew would be a meaningless conversation.
"You look sad," she said.
Robert was surprised and answered with a casual, "Yeah."
She reached out and touched his arm.
"I lost a patient today," said looking surprised that he had actually said that.
"Let's get out of here," suggested Jill. The hospital food isn't even edible. Want to get some fresh air?
She turned and walked toward the door and followed her like a puppy, surprised at his reaction to her.


PAGE FOUND

how hard it is to see a child die and wonder if there was something you could’ve done. It wish I could say it got easier, but it doesn’t,’
“Great,” he said despondently. “Sometimes I wish..” He looked away again.
“You wish?” Jill prompted quietly.
“1 don’t know. I don’t want to burden you with my problems. 1 probably just need some sleep. I’ll see you later. Robert turned to walk toward his car.
“Wait!” she called. Robert stopped and looked at her gratefully but hesitantly. “If you need to talk, I’m a good listener. Do you want to go somewhere for coffee?”
“Actually, that sounds great. I’ll meet you at the diner around the block.”
”I”ll see you there,” Jill said as she walked quickly toward her car.
It was a cold, clear night with the winds blowing the newly fallen snow making it seem a blizzard was brewing. It was a typical winter night for New England, and Jill was chilled to the bone by the time she reached her car. But it wasn’t her icy discomfort she was thinking about. She felt a warm glow inside, fueled by the fact that she was meeting Robert for coffee. It was him, not the hot coffee she was anticipating that warmed her all over. It had been almost a year since her breakup with her ex-fiancé, and since then she had shut herself down, not letting anyone
in. Instead she poured everything into her work, into the women and the babies she took care of everyday. But now it was as if the sun had finally risen and started melting the ice in her heart, the ice that formed the day her ex-fiancé left her just one week before their wedding. She felt she could trust Robert, and that scared her a little. But he seemed so lost and vulnerable, and she wanted to help him.
They arrived at the diner at the same time and the wind blew them inside where the warmth hit them in a welcoming rush, melting the snow that clung to their hair, forming droplets that dripped Onto their faces like tears. A rather buxom waitress seated them in a booth, and they took off their coats while looking at the Christmas decorations still hanging on the wails. The smell of coffee wafted through the air, while an old Neil Diamond song was playing on the old, beat up radio that sat on the front counter.
The waitress came to the table, plopped down two cups and splashed coffee into them. “Ifs a cold one out there tonight. You’re going to need this,” she said and sped away.
“I guess we ordered coffee,” said Robert, feeling his melancholy mood lift just by being in her presence.
‘1 guess we did,” Jill smiled, taking a sip. “It’s not fancy, but the food is good and the service is excellent.”
They chatted for a while, about the weather, how they had celebrated Christmas, about the hospital.. It was as if they had known each other forever. Jill felt like she had been reunited with a long lost friend. Finally, she brought the conversation back to his patient. “How old was he?” she asked softly.
Robert sighed. “He was seven. This was his third round of chemo, and he seemed to be doing very well this time.” The waitress came by and refilled their cups. “1 just wasn’t expecting it,” he continued. “One day he was fine, the next he was in a coma. “ He sighed again, and looked down into his cup. “The hardest part was telling hi s parents. They had suffered infertility for ten years before having him. He was their world. I don’t know how they are going to survive this. I... I know what it’s like, in a way.” He looked up and Jill could see the pain in his eyes. “My younger sister died of leukemia when she was eight. I was eleven. My family fell apart after that.”

Jill was touched by his candor, and filled with compassion for the pain he has suffered. She reached out and held his hand. "I’m so sorry." stroked his hand with her thumb and say, "It's not your fault."
Robert's blue eyes stared into her brown ones, tears forming at their corners. "Yes it is,” he said resolutely. "I couldn’t save and I couldn't save him. I never should've become a doctor." HE pulled his hand away and started putting on his coat. "I'd better go. I'm sorry. He was gone before Jill could stop him disappearing into the black, starry night.
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#6 of 16 Old 08-27-2006, 12:59 AM
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I found the idea for the story line original and interesting.

However, you need to catch the reader with the first sentence, grab them. Esp t the reader for the publishing houses and agents. THink about starting your story here:


Jill Calloway (or whatever her last name is)walked down the hall to their bedroom casually opening the door and was shocked by what she saw. Her husband was in bed with another man. The man was kissing her husband’s body, lower and lower, while her husband moaned in ecstasy as this much younger man’s mouth reached his penis. She stood there stunned, unable to breath or move, while her mind remained disbelieving of the images her eyes and ears perceived. She tried to speak, to pinch herself as if to awaken from a nightmare. Finally, she managed to squeak out her husband’s name. Robert?’

Put the first few paragraphs afterwards.

And I'd consider putting the back story after that, but in the same chapter. Makes your chapter long enough, without changing anything.

He should introduce himself as Robert Shefield, not 'Dr.' He sounds pompous. I'd use their names a bit less, he and she more.

You do a good job of giving a picture of what the diner looked liked, etc. It's easy to see what you characters see.


Do you have the whole book written? Do you know what happens next? It's an interesting premise!
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#7 of 16 Old 08-27-2006, 08:18 AM
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Quote:
"Let's get out of here," suggested Jill. The hospital food isn't even edible. Want to get some fresh air?
Typo. Fix your quotation marks

Quote:
She turned and walked toward the door and followed her like a puppy, surprised at his reaction to her.
Rewrite. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Quote:
“Ifs a cold one out there tonight.
Typo.

Quote:
stroked his hand with her thumb and say, "It's not your fault."
I think say should be said.

Quote:
He was gone before Jill could stop him disappearing into the black, starry night.
I'd change "him dissapearing" to "him from dissapearing" but thats matter of opinion.

Long distance Mom to boarding school superstars E (9) and Layne (6).
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#8 of 16 Old 08-27-2006, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone, this is very helpful. I don't have the whole book written. I don't even have the outline yet. So far I'm just letting my fingers spit things out. My next step is figuring out where I'm going with the story and outlining it.

I can post more of it if anyone is interested.
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#9 of 16 Old 08-27-2006, 11:59 AM
 
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hi,

your story line is interesting, and is so nice to see a midwife as a protagonist.

what immediately jumps at me from the first sentence, is that your prose is very 'telly' -- meaning that instead of providing us with vivid details and descriptions that would make us see the story as if it were a movie, you simply narrate the events. so so far this reads like an outline of a chapter, rather than a complete chapter.

with skillful details you can show the reader, right away, the protag's age, how she looked like, and immerse us in the story from the first para. if you start showing your chapter will really grow.

of course there are different schools of thought on this, and many agree that *some* tell is okay. i agree. but starting the novel with a rather telly narrative might not engage the reader to keep on reading.

this said, i would really like to know what happens to your characters, so this is a very good sign! and it seems like you have a very good idea of where you want to go with yoru characters, and this is awesome as well.

here are some links on show vs. tell, i just googled them:

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/creative/showing.htm

http://www.mariavsnyder.com/tips/showvstell.php

http://creativewriting.lifetips.com/...w-vs-tell.html

also, there is a nanowrimo.org each november, which is basically write your novel in a month (50K). i did it last year -- it was an awesome experience. so many people, thousands, writing fevereshly to finish 50 K. no one worrying about the quality, but quantity only. it was very liberating. i have my draft, i still haven't re-read it but it made my writing much crisper, more conscious and nano was just so much pure fun.

good luck with your novel!!!
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#10 of 16 Old 08-28-2006, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is this less "tellly"?

Chapter One

The sound of children playing in the next yard greeted Jill. As the key turned into the lock of the blue door, she entered her house, putting her pocketbook down onto the dusty table. Her blonde hair fell about her face as she pulled it out of the constrictive bun she had worn all day in the hospital where she worked as a midwife.

A grandfather clock ticked in the foyer, and suddenly sounded four times. She was over an hour early. On that particular day, a woman in labor had died due to severe toxemia. She was frowning, tears finally coming, wetting her scrubs that she hadn’t bothered to take off before leaving the hospital.

Looking forward to cup of hot tea and a bath, she stood in the kitchen and stared at the blue tea pot. The sink turned on and filled the silver tea pot. As it was put on the stove, it quickly started screaming, letting Jill know it was time to plunk her tea bag into her cup. Picking iti up carefully, she headed for the stairs. The door of her bedroom opened, and she was shocked by what she saw.

Her husband was in bed with another man. The man was kissing her husband’s body, lower and lower, while her husband moaned in ecstasy as this much younger man’s mouth reached his penis. She stood there stunned, unable to breath or move, while her mind remained disbelieving of the images her eyes and ears perceived. She tried to speak, to pinch herself as if to awaken from a nightmare. Finally, she managed to squeak out her husband’s name. Robert?’

Robert’s eyes flew open. The nameless man leapt off the bed as if shot out of a cannon.

“Robert!” she said again, this time louder and full of indignance. Robert’s face turned first blood red then sheet white. The other man quickly grabbed his clothes and ran from the room almost knocking Jill over as he fled. She heard the front door slam, as Robert sagged onto the bed with a look of guilt and resignation on his face. Anger took over as she walked briskly to the bed to confront her husband. She looked with disdain at his naked body, his rapidly fading erection, furious beyond belief at what had shattered her hopes, her dreams, their whole life.

“What the HELL is going on here? Who the hell was that? What.. .how. . Oh my God...” Jill collapsed to the floor, covering her face with her hands, shaking all over.
“Jill. Honey, I’m so sorry. 1 didn’t know how to tell you.. I’ve been so confused.” Robert’s voice broke as he looked at his wife huddled on the floor. “I’m sorry honey, please, come here.”

“Don’t touch me! Put your fucking clothes on and get the hell out of here. NOW!”

Robert got up and started getting dressed. “I love you,” he said sadly. “I didn’t want to hurt you. I was hoping I could stop, that I could change.” He stood up and put his wallet back into his pocket and put his glasses back on. “I’m gay. I’ve always been gay. But I do love you, and I love the life we’ve built together. I don’t want it to end. I don’t think I can live without you. I need you so much...” Robert looked pleadingly at his wife, tears flowing down his face, while she refused to look at him, averting her gaze to the four post mahogany bed that was now tarnished, the lamps and pictures they had chosen together, the lace curtains only recently hung on a Saturday afternoon full of laughter and hope. That was gone now, destroyed forever.

“Please,” she said quietly, “just leave.”

“I’ll be at the hospital,” he said quietly as he walked out the door.
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#11 of 16 Old 08-28-2006, 07:27 PM
 
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"The sink turned on and filled the silver tea pot. As it was put on the stove, it quickly started screaming,"

Reread above sentences. It sounds like the sink and teapot are magical.

" . . . as Robert sagged onto the bed "

Wasn't Robert already on the bed? He needs to leap up if he is going to sag back down like that.
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#12 of 16 Old 08-28-2006, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Looking forward to cup of hot tea and a bath, she stood in her kitchen and stared at the silver tea pot. As it was put on the stove, it quickly started screaming, letting Jill know it was time to plunk her tea bag into the hot water. Picking her cup up carefully, she headed for the stairs. The door of the bedroom opened and she was stunned by what she saw.

as Robert rolled over on the bed



Does this make more sense?
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#13 of 16 Old 08-28-2006, 07:50 PM
 
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Yes, but why the passive voice?

"After she placed it on the stove, the pot quickly started screaming . . ."
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#14 of 16 Old 08-28-2006, 07:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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it was my feeble attempt to be showing rather than telling. I"m confusedd now!!!!!
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#15 of 16 Old 08-28-2006, 10:22 PM
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Don't get discouraged! It's one of these things that you read about and after awhile, the lightbulb over your head comes on!

Try this page. http://www.sfwriter.com/ow04.htm
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#16 of 16 Old 08-29-2006, 01:59 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Red
Don't get discouraged! It's one of these things that you read about and after awhile, the lightbulb over your head comes on!

Try this page. http://www.sfwriter.com/ow04.htm
good article. thanks for posting.
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