Saturday, September 09, 2006

New Beginning 107

It is a well-known fact among parents that if you want your child to hate you, switching them to a different school against their will during their eighth grade year is a good bet. This is the equivalent of the collapse of civilization, and either Mr. Brian Walter James was unaware of this rule, or he simply disregarded it. He certainly acquired a fair amount of discord with his daughter, Angela, for his ignorance toward it. Mr. James had, without any reference to her feelings on the matter, quit his high-paying job in the city to move to an affluent town called Redfordshire several states away. The ensuing devastation was greater than predicted. In addition to the expected howls about hating the town and seriously disliking her father, Angela shut herself up in her room for the first few weeks after the move.

When the aforementioned Mr. James called to his ovarian-blessed progeny to remove her corporeal form from her sleeping chamber, Angela, rather than comply with his requests, sent forth her angry salutations through the closed wooden frame with repeated applications. Mr. James naturally replied with the calm reserve of any paterfamilias until Angela presented her trumping argument.

"Whatever" was the word which tickled his cochlea.

Continuation: Pacatrue


Rei said...

Well done, continuation. Well done. You caught the style exactly.

Sorry, author, this doesn't do it for me. It sounds like a pretentious way of saying something that should have taken one to two sentences.

merper said...

I loved this one. A middle-schooler who reads for fun should have the vocabulary to handle this piece. Actually other than discord and affluent, all the words are pretty low key.

I would definitely read on. It's got a quirky edge to it, and even though this is all back story, it's presented in a convincing way, it moves really fast and it doesn't get washed up in adjectives.

Plus, I was also forced to move during the 8th grade, so you got me there too. >_-

nitpicker said...

I like this a lot, and would be tempted to read on... But the use of "them" and "their" as a singular pronouns in the first sentence really irked me. I know it's common these days, but Jane Austen would never have done it, so it's a bit jarring.

Is there anything else you can do? If I were you, I would simply use the correctly gendered pronoun of the specific child you will eventually tell us about.

"It is a well-known fact among parents that if you want your child to hate you, switching her to a different school against her will during her eighth grade year is a good bet.

Dave said...

Why don't you lead with
"The ensuing devastation [of moving to a new city] was greater than predicted."

Every teen rebels. She hates the town, she hates her father, she hates her new classmates, she hates the new house...

except for that [what?] cute boy, new dog, new horse, the ostrich farm next door, what?

There is the lead. YOu can't write a novel where she stays locked in her room.
Even the Pevensie kids leave the wardrobe.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I liked it, the style was fun.

I could imagine hearing this recited as the intro to a TV show, while we were watching the scene being played out!

pjd said...

I liked the last one that channeled Austen with, I thought, some success, but this one just felt stilted to me. Trying too hard. I like Dave's suggestion of starting with the sentence he quoted.

I also dispute the idea that it's a well-known fact among parents. Parents move their kids all the time for jobs, family, whatever. I believe it would qualify more as an undisputable Truth than a well-known fact. (Also, at first you call it a fact, then you call it a rule. Which do you want it to be? And if this question is academic, then perhaps you should seriously consider Dave's advice on where to begin.)

Are people trying to write books that sound like the voice-over in Desperate Housewives?

Anonymous said...

Has a good flow to it! Good luck!

HawkOwl said...

It's trying for a certain tone and not quite getting there. "He acquired a fair amount of discord?" Sounds weird. If you could do the same thing but make it sound more natural, I'd probably read it.

writtenwyrdd said...

I agree about the pronoun and I agree with rei - this sounds pretentious. If I read further and found a reason for the overabundance of large words, fine. But, as is, this doesn't work for me.

Perhaps you are under the impression that grandiosity means depth. I also use big words - a lot. So don't take this as saying you shouldn't. Just be sure that the word serves a purpose. And just because it has the exact meaning you want, if it distracts your audience you are better off with a more common term.

December Quinn said...

I really liked the voice and the writing, but it's all telling, no showing. If you start with the girl shouting how she hates him through the door, and they argue, you can stick this stuff in between lines of dialogue.

Cathy Writes Romance said...

I liked the semi-formal, quirky style. This author has a voice though it's a bit shadowed in over-writing at present. I know, I have the same problem. It actually went on too long for me to care and does seem like an info dump to get us to the action. Just start with the action.

jfk said...

Starting with a paragraph that length doesn't inspire me to read on. Other than that though, I like the tone; it has a sufficiently over the top sound to it that I can imagine a teenager saying it. I'd go with the suggestion to break it up with some dialogue; done that way, I think it would have me reading more.

andie said...

I think pomposity works. Sounds like a teenager ventriloquizing an adult.

I would have been all over this when I was a kid.

Virginia Miss said...

I'd keep reading; I enjoy this type of humor.

I suggest you change 'child' to 'children' in the first sentence to fix the pronoun issue.

Well done, author

Dan Lewis said...

Bravo the continuation! Really says it all.

What's the plot? Out of curiosity.

Is there a viewpoint character? A hero, if you will? I would suspect it's Mr. James. His full name appearing first is a cue. Most of the conflicts in the opening are mentioned relative to him as well, e.g., "He certainly acquired a fair amount of discord..." but the opening does not really tip me off either way. Is he really the most sympathetic character?

All the vocabularizing (Turkey City Lexicon calls it "gingerbread") turned me off. I'm not a vocabulary hater, I'm a word lover. But I think the high-flown word choices led you into some very strange phrases, like "acquired a fair amount of discord" and "in addition to the expected howls".

This opening paragraph is redundant. For example, I count five plus references to Brian's daughter hating that they moved: "child to hate you", "collapse of civilization", "discord", "devastation", "howls", etc. I mean, you had me at "well-known fact".

They moved from a high-paying job to an affluent town, she hated to move in the 8th grade, he didn't care, she shut herself into her room. You spent a lot of expensive words to tell me this information. "In medias res" would counsel you to open with a scene where all this stuff is implied and we get to the action faster.

3rd omniscient POV is very hard to do well. It didn't work for me, mainly because I didn't identify personally with the voice you wrote in. YMMV.

Xenith said...

One is lured out of lurking :)

"but Jane Austen would never have done it"

She's often used as an example of a writer who did use them/their as singular pronouns e.g.

BuffySquirrel said...

Channelling Austen? Don't make me laugh.