01-23-2012 12:12 AM
The following is a project I started a while ago and recently picked back up to work on. In re-reading I noticed that something just doesn't seem to flow...but I can't put my finger on it. Opinions?
The day was cold. Colder than it should be in August. For the past two months the air had been heavy with a temperature well above one-hundred. Even in the weeks preceding this, the last day of August, there was no sign that a drop was coming. Without stepping outside, or looking through a window for that matter, as the frosty fog had surely been visible through the gray atmosphere since the early hours, Sophie felt no need to withdraw one of the brightly colored tank tops from her closet to match a slim fitting pair of linen Capri pants. Instead, today, Sophie scanned to the rear of her wardrobe and chose to dress in her favorite ski pants, (plaid, made of purple and khaki moisture-resistant nylon), a black thermal long sleeve crew neck, and matching plaid ski jacket. She didn’t know where this urge came from, only that it was practical for today. Without thinking, Sophie selected what she needed, dressed, and knew she was prepared for the day. She did not know what the day held. Only that she was prepared for it.
After waiting patiently for the coffee pot to heat the two cups of water Sophie had poured into it, she responded to the alert by pouring the steaming water into a pink and brown polka-dotted Hello Kitty travel mug she had already poured the contents of three instant hot chocolate pouches into. The kind with the mini marshmallows. Sophie loved those marshmallows. With a few swift circles of a spoon, the hot chocolate was mixed and Sophie replaced the lid on her travel mug then deposited the spoon into the kitchen sink. Holding the mug cupped in both hands, she approached the front door to her house, next to which sat on a tile floor her book bag, a white back-pack with purple zippers and Hello Kitty stickers strategically placed over the brand logos. Sophie gracefully snatched up her back pack from its resting place on the floor and heaved it onto her shoulders shifting her hot chocolate from one hand to the other. One hand finally clenched the door handle and turned. Sophie opened the front door and stepped through to proceed down the driveway, then the sidewalk about a block and a half to the stop where the school bus would pick her and six others up for a ride to school.
For five years school buses had been stopping at this particular stretch of sidewalk. Since the last house in the development neighborhood had been occupied, introducing the last of the required amount of students needed to warrant a stop. That student was Sophie, and for five years, since that first day when her over-prepared mother had escorted her to the bus stop an hour and a half early so as not to miss the first ride of the school year and leave a negative impression among the other families in the neighborhood, Sophie had arrived at the stop early to meet Clara, her best friend.
Clara’s mother had also over-anticipated the first day of the stop’s use and arrived just ten minutes after Sophie and her mother had. Perhaps it was this common characteristic in the girls’ mothers that drew them into friendship – understanding – or perhaps it was the mutual fascination with those little knit caps with the puff balls on top and ear flaps on the sides, but Sophie and Clara hit it off immediately, and rarely spent time apart ever since. The two girls always met at the bus stop early to talk without other nosey kids or bullies interrupting or casting glances at their interesting conversations, and they never sat apart on the bus, whether it be on the ride to school or back to the bus stop or even for a field trip. They were kindred. For five years Sophie and Clara had an unfaltering love for each other. One that sisters might share. Not the kind of sisters who fight all the time or talk about the other to expose bad behavior and see the justified punishment, but those sisters who are so alike that everything is better with the other near to understand exactly how her sister feels and can share sentiments and jokes and fears and sadness. For five years, now, Sophie and Clara had shared their sentiments. And jokes, and fears, and yes, sadness. Even though no one else understood. Though some thought the two strange or silly, Sophie had Clara and Clara had Sophie, and that would never falter. Neither would judge the other.
As Sophie approached the bus stop, Clara waited, faithfully, with her ever warming grin and added a furrowed brow. “Ok. Explain.” She said with a giggle, her grin widening. Sophie’s eyes met Clara’s in response, or maybe indifference, Clara wasn’t sure. “Hey, you alright?” Clara waved her hand in front of Sophie’s face to urge a reaction. Sophie snatched Clara’s hand mid-wave, wrenched it sharply towards the ground ignoring Clara’s yelp as her wrist broke, pulled a small pairing knife out of her pocket with her other hand and, beginning underneath the ear, elegantly sliced through the center of Clara’s neck prompting a flood of scarlet. Sophie’s knife hit the glistening sidewalk just before Clara’s limp, lifeless body slunk down next to it. Sophie turned on her heel and strode back down the sidewalk out of view leaving behind the remains of her best friend in a puddle of blood steaming atop the hot sidewalk.
It was 7:00am on August 26th. The fist day of sixth grade, and ninety-four degrees outside.
Four miles southeast of Maple Creek, the new cookie-cutter sub-division popular among families, Marissa Claermount woke with a start to the strong beat of her favorite rock song. Her eyes closed again, a smooth grin climbed across her face and her hands ran through her long all too Gaelic orange-red hair extending to complete a full body stretch. She wriggled her way reluctantly out of bed and made her way down a grand hallway of pale blue wallpaper adorned with silver finial patterns and white wainscoting donning the lower half. The carpet was a soft white that molded to her bare feet with every step providing a cool, plush, landing for every step down the long corridor. As she walked, Marissa passed several arched windows that overlooked the Maple Hills to the west and only just revealed some ofMapleLakenestled snuggly amongst the hills on the north side. In the warm late August sunlight, the lake glimmered and called to Marissa, but today there would be no impromptu trip with her girlfriends to work on their tans. It was time to begin another school year, the last required for Marissa and her friends, and it was with the same trepidation that accompanied the presentation of a seemingly perfect finished essay that she approached the day. She could not have guessed what the year would hold, but knew somehow that it would be the best of her school years thus far regardless.
01-23-2012 07:34 AM
01-23-2012 04:13 PM
Thanks, that's exactly the kind of feedback I was looking for! The chapter transition is abrupt on purpose, but will tie together later. I've been reading a lot of books lately in which the author takes each chapter from a different perspective, bouncing back and forth, so I decided to try it. I may have posted a bit prematurely. Jason Bourne effect will be explained later, I wanted to create an amount of mystery, it sounds like you were appropriately perplexed. That being said, I can work with your comments, thanks again for reading!
02-04-2012 06:04 PM
First, I agree with Dan: I like this story and it does flow well. The killing caught me completely by surprise, which, at my age, isn't easy for anyone to do (I'm an old fogey, so I've already seen all kinds of things). I think it's OK for her to kill like Jason Bourne, because she's going to turn out to be possessed by someone or something like that, right? Actually, don't spoil anything by telling us yet.
I'm OK with the sudden transition to Marissa, because (exactly as you pointed out) I expect you to resolve it later. Marissa's essays turn out to be the vehicle through which someone evil is making other people do the killings or something, right? Wait, don't spoil that one either; I'm just telling you why I think the suddenness is OK.
If you're worried about the way your story flows, the one suggestion I might offer is this: sometimes you describe things too thoroughly. For example, is it necessary for the advancement of the story that we know that her Capri pants are linen? Just omitting that one word speeds up the pace. Ditto for the fact that her coffee mug is pink and brown, and that her bookbag's stickers are placed over the logos. Don't drain all the life out of your writing by killing off all adjectives, but you might consider using them more sparingly so as to make the story flow just a bit faster.
OK, now for the son-of-English-teacher crud (please don't hate me afterwards!):
1. A paring knife is something you pare (not pair) with, so there's only one "i" in it.
2. Your story wouldn't be the same without the sentence fragments ("One that sisters might share," for example), so I'm giving you a total pass on all of them.
3. It's difficult to gracefully snatch anything. This one's tough, because "gracefully grabbed" doesn't work either. Maybe "gracefully scooped up?" Maybe someone else can make a suggestion.
End of son-of-English-teacher stuff!
I like this story. Please let us know how it turns out!
02-10-2012 11:49 PM
I liked it too. I'm not exactly behind her in her decision to kill her best friend (for seemingly no good reason), but I can admire and respect her devotion to chocolate .
I agree with what was said about the sometime over-detailing. I think that some things can be left to the imagination of the reader and that may be what is causing you to question the flow of it. Some things, like the Hello Kitty mug, is important, because it paints a picture and makes you wonder what could possibly make a 6th grader with a Hello Kitty mug kill in cold blood. I would say that it isn't important to the character or the plotline, it could be less detailed.
The jump to Marissa was a bit abrupt, but I like the possible forshadowing and the questions it raises about where the story goes next.
Can't wait for more!
03-19-2012 03:34 PM
Thank you very much for your input. Not to worry, I appreciate the grammer corrections, as that is where I have little more than a high school level of training. Hopefully I will have more of the story to post soon : )
03-20-2012 10:22 AM
Sometimes if things don't flow "right" to you, it just may mean instating or removing punctuation, words, and sometimes ignoring the rules of grammar, until it flows right to you- and then hopefully the reader will agree. It also means that you may have to remove a part of your story, or possibly include more......it's a long, laborious process, but hopefully it will pay off!
Good luck! And make-em pay for your best writing! Those cheapskates!