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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

First Chapter (part two)

Here's the second part of Donna Hole's first chapter from her novel  NOT HER MOTHER’S FATE. My comments are in purple and don't forget to tell Donna what you think in the comments below.

“Wow,” Amy muttered as the mysterious stranger sauntered away.  “Who’s that?”
“Robert Crane,” Joy said, rolling her eyes.  “You don’t remember him?”
Amy shook her head as she watched him moving through the crowd.  Not quite strutting, but with a sure stride.
“Well, he’s noticed you.  Told Brad you were a stone fox!”
Amy sneered her nose at the term.
“That’s a compliment, Amy.”  Cienna nudged Amy’s shoulder.  “Most girls would die to have the interest of a guy like that.  I wouldn’t be complaining if he’d just kissed me that way.” 
“Leave her alone,” Joy said, pushing Cienna out of clawing reach.  “Anyway, he doesn’t really fit in with Brad’s usual crowd, but Robert’s close friends with people Brad wants to get to know. ”  She shrugged as Robert glanced their direction.  “Cienna’s right about one thing though - he’s definitely too good looking to ignore.”
“Back off bitches!  I saw him first.” Cienna cursed, gave Amy an angry sniff, and strutted off towards her intended prey.
“Ignore her,” Joy yelled over a blast of steel guitars.  “I’ll see if Brad will get the music changed.  Something slow and sensuous.  Maybe he’ll find you a guy to nuzzle against.  Bet Robert would be willing.”
Amy rolled her eyes at Joy as she moved away.  Her gaze settled on Cienna, and she watched as the girl pushed and shoved her way through a group of rowdy young men with Robert at their center.  He was laughing and rubbing his lips as he talked, and Amy imagined Robert was bragging to the men about his stolen kiss, making up a story about how eagerly she’d responded, maybe even telling them she’d invited him to her bed later.  Her cheeks burned with anger.  Men!
The men whistled as Cienna grasped Robert around the neck, pulled him down for a long, passionate kiss.  She wrapped a bare, slender leg around his hip, and he straightened, bumping his groin into the exposed opening.  The beer he was holding dropped to the floor as his hands went instantly to her curvaceous hips.
Just another asshole looking for a quickie, Amy thought bitterly.  She bit her lower lip, trying to chew away the memory of his kiss and how unexpectedly comfortable his arms felt around her.  Somewhere she’d lost her own drink, and she turned away from Cienna’s triumph before it finished.
The kitchen was miraculously empty.  After mixing herself a drink, Amy eased her way through the throng around the keg and out the back.  The March air was chilly and damp, but felt good after the stuffiness of the party.  She could still hear and feel the throb of bass, but it was faint over the heavy thud of her own heartbeat. Finding an unoccupied corner in the dark, Amy sat on a low brick planter and listened to the sensuous moans of lovers as she sucked on the strong brandy drink. 
Why do I care who he makes out with?  Amy asked herself.  She worked grave yard at 7-11, and when she’d applied for the job a year ago, she thought she’d never get used to night work.  But when the manager had warned her the shift would effectively end any chance of future relationships, Amy had immediately signed on.  The job was exactly what she’d needed at the time.
The benefits of the forced solitude were wearing thin, however, as Amy watched more and more of their group pairing off, marrying or moving in together, having families.  Amy was beginning to see herself as a spinster, (this implies she sees being unmarried/unattached as a negative thing. Is that what you want? Just asking.) and she didn’t like that vision at all.  Tumultuous and abrupt as they were, at least Cienna had lovers.  She’d had several one-night-stands last as long as three days.  Joy was only two years older than Amy, but had already been married and divorced, and every so often, a new picture of her son would arrive in the mail. 
The last one came about a month ago, and after Joy cried herself out, she threw out her birth control pills and told Amy it was time for a new family.  Brad seemed more than willing to be caught in marriage, as he spent enough time at the house to be living here, though Amy doubted the ceremony would settle either of them down.  Still, it was Brad and Joy’s growing romance that put Amy in a lonely mood.  Disgruntled as she was, Amy knew there had to be a man out there somewhere that wouldn’t hurt her.
Her mind returned to Robert, and how quickly he’d fallen into Cienna’s clutches. She shook her head against the tears of betrayal that burned her eyes and took a large gulp of her drink.  It was just a kiss, Amy.  She licked her lips, remembering the soft feel of his lips on hers.  Amy heard a deep, sensual moan, and for a moment, thought it came from herself.  Then she realized the sound was getting heavier, drifting closer, and two shadows wiggled closer out of the dimly lit patio.
“Move off,” Amy yelled at the couple.
“Shit.”  The girls laughter joined the man’s curse as they stumbled off, straightening clothes as they went.
Amy was torn between disgust and amusement.  But the interruption served to remind her she didn’t really want a man who’d slept with Cienna.  Nobody turned down so direct an invitation, and she expected to see the two glued hip to hip the rest of the night. 
Hell with it, Amy told herself.  There were plenty of other men out there begging for a date with Amy, with kisses just as sweet.  She just had to let one get close enough to plant one on her.  Her bad luck with men couldn’t last forever; she was bound to do better the next time.  Women were always offering Amy dating advice, telling her how pretty she was, how appealing her shyness was. Amy didn’t see herself as pretty, and her shyness was self defense, not a ploy in sexual games.
Her 5’6 frame was willowy, and she moved with controlled grace. She’d learned at an early age that being pretty was a disadvantage when trying not to be noticed; either by her alcoholic father, teachers and social workers, or by boys who might bring on her father’s jealous temper. She had her mother’s small facial features, dark eyes, and naturally thin eyebrows. The shiny black hair was her father’s gift, and curse, as it invited men to viciously yank as well as to run rough fingers through. (too much telling here, imho.)Amy fingered the smooth braid and her lips curved in a tight smile. This is better because it shows her. See the difference?
Joy had nearly hyperventilated two years ago when Amy decided she was splurging on herself for her birthday with a trip to the beauty parlor.  Joy managed to talk her out of the pixie cut in favor of a long shag, but the blond highlights had been a hideous mistake.
When the glass was empty, and her shivering was more an effect of the cold than nervousness, she headed once again towards the house.  She had just stepped into the open garage door when she heard Robert addressing the crowd around the keg.  Amy nudged her way beside the glowing heater to warm her damp buns as she listened.
“Aw, who would ever want to leave Oroville?  Thirty miles up the mountain we have snow and forests.  The world’s largest earth filled dam looms in our back yard with the best boating and bass fishing around.”  He took a theatrical drag on his cigarette as he winked at Amy.  “Couple years ago, I sat on Montgomery Street and watched Richard Burton and Lee Marvin doing a shoot out for The Klansman.  In five years, or so the Chamber of Commerce tells us, every western movie out of Hollywood will be shot right here in our rock piles.”
“The Outlaw Josey Wales was filmed there,” a girl piped up from the floor.  The stereo had gone silent during Robert’s soap-box monologue, and didn’t restart right away, otherwise her nasal voice would have been lost in the noise.  “I saw Clint Eastwood leaving The Village Inn.  Got in a limo and drove off before I could get his autograph.”
A few people laughed at her, including a long haired man in tye-dyed shirt with a joint bouncing on his lip. “Ah, Dude!  It’s 1978; your five years is about up.  Only movie being shot here now is that trucker movie, BJ and The Bear.”
“That Kennworth is fuckin’ awesome,” Robert boasted.  “Me ’n Cal got a picture of us standing right under the logo on the door, the chimp hanging out the window.”   He inhaled deeply from his cigarette.  “California sunshine everywhere -”
“Fuck Red, haven’t you noticed?  Except for tonight its been raining for weeks.”
“Liquid sunshine, boys.  Just keeping the rolling hills green.”
Amy laughed with the others, and looked closely at the faces of his audience.  Cienna was nowhere in sight.  There were more men around the keg than women, and all seemed firmly attached to a guy.  When she looked back at Robert, he was staring at her.  She gave him what she hoped was a friendly smile, and wandered off to find Joy. 
Bolstered by the few minutes of solitude and alcohol, she danced with a couple guys of Brad’s choosing.   They were good looking and polite enough, even for stoners; but none of their arms felt as good as Robert’s had, nor any of the stolen, quick kisses as arousing.  Had he asked, Amy convinced herself she would have willingly danced with Robert.
She heard his voice, his laughter, frequently from the garage over the next hour, but he didn’t return to the front room.  Disappointed, Amy escaped to the sanctuary her room as soon as Joy was too high to notice the guest of honor’s disappearance.

I like this first chapter. The atmosphere feels like a real party although I do think it could be improved by more specific smells (beer, hard liquor?) and sounds (are there any specific songs playing? I heard a bass but that’s about it. Telling what song is playing or giving a better idea of how it sounds will help place the reader deeper in the scene.) I’m also interested in the characters that have been introduced. I have distinct feelings for some of them. I suspect that Amy and Robert will become involved, but I’m not sure. In fact, I’m not sure at all where this story is going but it doesn’t matter because the author has made me care about the characters. And I especially want to know more about Amy, see what she’s going to do next. This is a good beginning :)

Now, what do you guys think? 

oh, and the genre is women's fiction for those who were curious and tomorrow I have another first chapter for you all :)


Huntress said...

Lol. Definitely NOT fantasy.

Donna, your dialogue is excellent. It pulled me into the story and scene.

I agree with Marcy about nailing the reader with smells and sounds. Taste and colors give a point to focus on.

My only crit: use care with the attributes. 'Robert boasted' 'Amy yelled at the couple' 'Joy yelled over a blast of steel guitars' 'Cienna cursed'.

Whenever possible, let the words define the tone of the speaker. Don't 'tell' the reader. Use 'said'.

Angela Brown said...

So I went back to read the first part of this submission so I wouldn't give an opinion or share my thoughts on just this part. Would be embarrassing to suggest detailing how Amy is the guest of honor when a quick read back explains that in the first part of the chapter.

With that unnecessarily said and out of the way, I mainly found a lot of tell and not show for this part. For example, with the description, you can mention a physical reaction she could have remembering being eye to eye with the green eyed handsome fellow. You've mentioned that Robert is 5'6 and it appears she's the same height. Let her use the environment around her to mold and shape her description so it doesn't have to be delivered. For instance, you have her go to join the crowd. Perhaps have her slither through a narrow something or other so she can be closer to the front or maybe have to nudge around a taller woman decked in platform heels.

Also, this sounds like a decently happy crowd of folks (um, can I join?). I'm guessing interesting scents are floating around. Was there food, Fritos and bean dip, barbecue or was the alcohol the main thing? I'm asking mainly to see if it would be possible to engage the reader more with some sensory interaction.

Okay, I'll stop rambling.

DeniseCovey_L_Aussie said...

Hi there! There is atmosphere here as the story gets underway and the dialogue is splarkly at times but I think Donna could do a rewrite on the 'showing not telling'. Needs to be more mystery. Let the reader use their own imagination. I'm sure with attention to these details, the chappter will shine.


Donna Hole said...

Thanks everyone. This is a tremendous help. I appreciate the time everyone put into the thoughtful feedback.