Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New Beginning 30

“Hi there, I’m Poppy your neighbor next door.” She says as I open the door. “We’ve been dying to meet you ever since we saw the moving van pull up.”

I notice the group of women standing at the bottom of my driveway, waving. “Nice to meet you, I’m Molly, we moved here from California.”

“How exciting! So, what I wanted to tell you was that we do a neighborhood walk every morning and then we get together for coffee, we’d love for you to join us.”

“That would be great.”

“You have kids right?” She asks, as I feel my stomach clench.

“Um, no. We don’t… not yet at least.” I laugh nervously.

“Oh.” Her mouth forms a perfect circle. “Well the thing is, it’s actually just moms that participate. So, I’m sorry. You won’t be able to join us. But it was a pleasure meeting you.”

"Wait! Poppy!"

"Yes?" She seems uncomfortable.

"I - uh, - we, do foster children count?" I don't know what is making me say this; I just want so much to fit in here. "I mean, I have a foster daughter, does that count?"

The women confer and nod. "Yes!" Poppy says brightly, delighted that I can now join their group.

I smile back and close the door. I look at Hepsibah. Will baby clothes fit her? And what will I do about the whiskers?


Continuation: Kate Thornton

22 comments:

gina said...

dang, I've been checking every day but I missed the commenting on mine ! but I do like the new part - lol... not *quite* what I had in mind... but maybe... hmmmm...

g.

Evil Editor said...

It was just posted. Give people time to read it.

kis said...

“Hi there, I’m Poppy your neighbor next door.” She says as I open the door.

should be: "Hi there, I'm Poppy your neighbor next door," she says...

I'm not sure I buy the whole idea that the protag would be excluded based on childlessness. In my experience, folks with kids (myself included) are atrocious bores and would likely welcome a swinging single into the group. I mean, when you have no life, you gotta live vicariously through someone.

Of course, I live in a small town where if you don't include everyone, word gets around fast that you're a total bitch.

Oh, and if the protagonist wants a kid, I've got three screaming kids + two hulking, surly, teenage stepsons I'm looking to get rid of right now. Make me an offer.

Jessica said...

ccmMight make a few enemies here, but if I opened my door and a pack of crazy moms asked me if I had kids yet, I wouldn't feel sad. I'd say, "No, I don't, thank God!" Then I would move away from the all too domestic neighborhood.

Bernita said...

As far as characterization is concerned, I took an immediate and profound dislike to Poppy.

Jane said...

Hi, Gina,

You need to watch the run on sentences in your dialogue. It's true that people don't always speak grammatically, but it was a touch hard to read. Consider replacing some of those commas with periods.

Good luck with your book!

Anonymous said...

I need some context before I can care about these characters or their conversation. Consider starting with an earlier scene, one that shows the narrator moving into her new house. What are her hopes and worries as she moves in? Who the heck is she, anyway?

In this scene, I'd like to see more of what's going on. What does Poppy look like? Is she perfectly made up and coiffed in a designer running suit, or is she wearing cutoffs with her hair pulled back in a sloppy ponytail? What does her voice sound like?

In the first few paragraphs, I'm thinking, "Stepford Wives," but the narrator seems to want to impress this woman. Why?

A little more of the narrator's thoughts/perceptions/reactions between the lines of dialogue would be helpful. The dialogue itself doesn't hold me, but I'd sure like to know what the narrator is thinking.

Also "you have kids, right?" didn't work for me. If it's that important, Poppy would probably ask it first. Something like "So how old are your kids?" (maybe even as she joins them for her first morning walk) would feel more natural.

Stories about outsiders are always interesting, so keep going with this!

Anonymous said...

This didn't pull me in.

The first sentence has a very simple construction. I thought the genre was mid-grade (children's). Obviously not, since she's expected to have kids already!

The dialogue sounded very "ordinary" to me. So it didn't captivate my interest.

And then Poppy's rudeness of taking back an invitation--didn't sound particularly believable (especially over something as trivial as a "neighborhood walk" for moms).

No sensory detail. Nothing to make this leap off the page at me.

I probably would not keep reading. (Although I am curious about the unnamed MFC's reason for laughing nervously when saying she has no kids. That bit is the interesting part to me.)

McKoala said...

I'm also thinking 'Stepford Wives'! This one moved a little fast for me. The idea is devastating. Although I have some doubts about its realism I would be prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt, but it would have more impact for me if there was a little more orientation first.

HawkOwl said...

Bernita - How could one not hate a woman named Poppy? LOL

gina said...

it's interesting that no one finds that conversation believable - it's verbatim what my neighbors said to me when me moved into our previous house. In fairness, I cut a piece out in the beginning and the end in order to meet the 150 word requirement, it probably would make more sense and answer some of the questions asked if I had left it intact...

thanks for the feedback so far, even though it kinda stings, it is helpful...

g.

gina said...

also interesting that several mentioned Stepford Wives, because in my query I mention its a cross between Stepford Wives and Desperate Housewives... :)

g.

Anonymous said...

I love it. I like the hint of menace. Obviously Poppy watched the moving truck being unloaded so she knows that Molly is kidless and unfulfilled (and in posession of a horrible floral print sofa). I'm willing to bet this is just the first of many taunts to make Molly realise that her dinky status is a symptom of not living up to her obligations as a woman; selfishly putting her career before the continuation of the human race. No doubt it won't be long before Poppy's husband is offering to "help out" too...

And the name Poppy is symbolic too, right? They're all on opium?

Daisy said...

Well, I guess I'll be the one to trot out the old "just because it's real doesn't mean it's realistic" saw. I felt like that bit of conversation was over-the-top too. My thought was that the rejection could be more subtle, something like:
"Oh," she said, her smile slipping a bit. "Well, I'm sure it will be nice anyway."
Not that exactly, but you get the idea.

Anonymous said...

"it's verbatim what my neighbors said to me when me moved into our previous house"

Maybe that's the problem. Life is almost always stranger than fiction, isn't it? Try and move away from what really happened while still using the eerie essence of it.

However, I like the premise of this. Very much, actually. I love (well, maybe hate is the real word for it) the thought of a neighborhood where you're excluded on the basis of not having children.

Like many of the other commenters, I wanted more. Something to get to know the protag before she opens the door, something to show her reactions throughout the dialogue. This is obviously a scene filled with conflict, and by taking the reader through it too fast you miss the opportunity to make the most of it.

Keep at it!

zornhau said...

What it's missing as an opening is a sense of significance and what the response might be (the which, the continuator supplied).

Next door lady comes round, seems nice, but excludes protag on basis of not being a mom. So what? Does protag reach for her gun? Plan to go out and find a fertile man? Determine to convince her spouse it's time to leave.

Anonymous said...

Personally I like the off the wall response. What seems normal instantly turns bizarre with Poppy's reaction. I like the turn and the over-the-topness is what's fun!

Dave said...

Gina you say: "I mention its a cross between Stepford Wives and Desperate Housewives" -

Sex-crazed robots that clean house?
Sex-crazed robots that clean house?

You have my vote. But then, I'm a male chauvinist oink. Made my day! LOL - ;)

I like the idea of passing of some poor creature as adopted offspring. Rent-a-kid at Walmart, maybe?

Imelda said...

Hey, Gina, here's one that maybe doesn't sting so much...

I didn't find this conversation impossible at all. I bought into the 'oh, what nice neighbours' thing then felt kicked when the Poppy creature turned it nasty.

I suppose the only thing I would say is that a bit more of the two of them would give it even more oomph. How did the childless one react when the knock came and how did it find her? Was she dusty and sweaty and half-way through a box of things she never remembered owning in the first place when the knock came? Did she react impatiently, or was she keen to see who it was? Did she care that her neighbours were going to see her like that? Is she desperate to fit in, or couldn't she care? If she is childless, what is she doing in child-centred suburbia in the first place?

And, as someone else pointed out, what does P look like? And what reaction does she have to the way childless girly looks? Does she try to get a peep inside the house?

I realise some of these questions will probably be answered later, but a little more upfront might flesh it out a bit more. I got a situation here, but not fully-fleshed people in the situation.

I hope that helps, because I think the story has promise.

Cheers, I

Frainstorm said...

Can we assume we're supposed to dislike Poppy? And if so, can the protagonist respond with something more devastating so both parties are squirming a little?

Pompous Poppy: "Do you have kids?"
Protag: "Not anymore."

Now Poppy sounds even harsher if she excludes her. This is just an example obviously, as only you know where the story is going, but maybe something to ratchet things up a little.

John

gina said...

I think if I posted the whole except it might clear things up - Ill insert it below and if that's not okay just delete the comment - thanks to everyone for your responses...

The Mommy Club

For the third time in less than a week, I curse my husband for moving us to Seattle and onto Meandering Trail. The first two mostly involved delayed movers and settling into a new city; the third has to do with my neighbor Poppy who I met just a few short moments ago when she knocked on my front door.

“Hi there, I’m Poppy your neighbor next door.” She motions to the two story colonial house on the right. “We’ve been dying to meet you ever since we saw the moving van pull up but we figured we’d give you a few days to get settled in.” I notice the group of women standing at the bottom of my driveway, waving.

“Nice to meet you, I’m Molly, we moved here from California.”

“How exciting! So, what I wanted to tell you was that we do a neighborhood walk every morning and then we get together for coffee, we’d love for you to join us.”

“That would be great.” One step in the right direction of losing those fifteen pounds I’ve gained over the last year.

“You have kids right?” She asks, as I feel my stomach clench.

“Um, no. We don’t… not yet at least.” I laugh nervously.

“Oh.” Her mouth forms a perfect circle. “Well the thing is, it’s actually just moms that participate. So, I’m sorry. You won’t be able to join us. But it was a pleasure meeting you.” And then with a flounce of her red hair she is gone back down the driveway.

At the bottom she stops among the group of women. I see her motion back towards the house; they all begin laughing as they make their way to their respective houses gathering their children on the way.

I walk into the kitchen, pour myself a glass of wine (even though it’s barely noon) and curse my husband.

It wasn’t planned this way, I never expected to be thirty and childless. I had been working at Morgan Financial for three years as an advisor, when Marc was hired to oversee the installation of a new software system. In fact, on Marc’s first day at the office, I whispered to our receptionist, “I’m gonna have his children.”

We started dating a few months later and within a year were married. We even decided to forgo birth control on our honeymoon figuring we’d be pregnant by the time we left Aruba. Boy, were we ever wrong.

So far, nada. Nothing. Zip. Not even a slightly delayed period in the last eighteen months to show for all the spontaneous newlywed sex we were having.

does that help?

Evil Editor said...

What would have helped would have been to have the first 150 words of the book in the first place, rather than a butchered version.