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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bourbon-spiked punch

A big thank you to Jadzia for her submission! Here is the first page of her manuscript. My comments will be in purple and I invite you to add your to help Jadzia make her first page shine. 

Bourbon-spiked punch doesn’t relieve the pain that gnaws at my gut. Grandma’s kisses can’t still the shaking of my fingers as I raise another plastic cup to my lips. A sun the size of my pain, shining through the living room windows, fails to warm the numbness inside of me. The whispers creep in—family members talking behind their hands, eyes on me. Nice set up. I immediately want to know why they're talking behind their hands. Also like the active verbs :)
            I slide trembling fingers over my tulip-pink skirt and tuck my hands into the pockets. My father’s timepiece is there, and I curl my fingers around it.
            Someone named Marcus, or Malcolm, tells me how sorry he is for my loss. He says he’s my father’s cousin, but I’ve never seen him before.
            Marcus-Malcolm shakes my hand. His wife gives me a soft hug, but her arms are weak. (I don't think you need this because you've already said her hug is soft)When she pulls away, I notice the chain around her neck, the Clock ticking there. Interesting. Clock with a capital C. What does it mean?
“Eight days,” I say, reading the numbers counting down.
 She looks startled—whether because I’ve finally spoken, or because I’ve mentioned her Clock, I’m not sure.
“I’m sorry?” She asks.
Her fingers rise and press the timepiece against her chest. Her eyes are shining with tears.
“Eight days,” I say again. Marcus-Malcolm pulls his wife away by the arm while she strains her neck to look at me.
People don’t usually mention other peoples’ Clocks. Death is a touchy subject, especially now that it can be predicted. (Creepy! I'm not sure I'd want to know, but I love the idea of it!) I shouldn’t have mentioned it—it’s rude. Regular Keller wouldn’t blurt stuff out like that. But it’s like I’m different now that my father is dead. Like I’m not me. 

Wow. Not much to crit here. I'm intrigued. Very intrigued.


LD Masterson said...

Me, too. I want to read more of this.

Huntress said...

I like the tone of your first paragraph but you might be overplaying your hand. Try ‘less is more’. Show her distress then back off.
Example: Bourbon-spiked punch doesn’t relieve the pain as I raise another plastic cup. Whispers creep in – family talking behind their hands, eyes on me.

"His wife gives me a hug with..." Here is your chance to breathe life into a MS. The woman gives her a limp hug. What simile comes into your mind for 'limp'?
My poor examples: His wife gives me a hug with doughy arms. With arms like towels, limp and formless. With arms made of limp noodles.

Try mixing up short sentences to increase the drama.
"Marcus-Malcolm pulls his wife away. *by the arm while-cut* (new sentence)
She strains her neck to look at me."

Excellent last paragraph but find a way to edit the passive phrase, ‘can be predicted’.
Definitely a page-turner for me also.

Jadzia Brandli said...

Thanks so much for the comments on this, everyone. You all had some good ideas/points. Passive phrase: AH! I know. I've been trying to find a way to get rid of that. Thanks, guys!

Patchi said...

I have goosebumps just from reading page 1. I like the imagery of the first paragraph -- it gives a nice setup -- and I like the premise that comes through with the mention of the Clock. Just enough explanation to suggest there is more to what is hanging on the chain.

Liz said...

Okay, so Clocks that predict death? Interesting.

TerriKRowe said...

I loved the part where you say the old you would never have said a word, really drives home the change that is occurring and makes me want to learn more about these people and this world/place.

Laura Stephenson said...

This makes me want to know where the MC keeps her clock. Or is it only something people get at a certain age? Very good hook.

Jadzia Brandli said...

Thanks for posting my first page, and thanks to everyone for giving me your thoughts and expressing your interest. It's good to know that I'm doing something right. And I guess you'd have to read further to answer that question, Laura. ;)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Wow, I love the unusual premise for this story. Terrific start!

Aldrea Alien said...

A Clock that tells the time of death. That brings up a lot of questions.
At the forefront: Where do they get these clocks? Who is doing the predicting? How accurate are they? Do you get to choose whether you have one, or not? And, if death is still a touchy subject, why are they wearing them where everyone can see?
These are all questions that'll drag me forward, so long as they're eventually answered. I'm going to assume the MC has a Clock too.

One major thing flashes through as I read: They knew her father was going to die well beforehand, yes? I would've thought people would've been a little more ... prepared.
Maybe it's just me, perhaps I'm cold, I dunno, but I lost my Uncle and Grandmother (both living in the same house) in within months of each other, both more or less predicted and it was the unpredictable death of an animal (same year) that hurt more.

Jadzia Brandli said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Susan and Aldrea! I'm glad you both liked it. I'm also glad it leaves a few questions in your head, Aldrea. I agree that questions are often what makes me read further, in the hopes of getting them answered.

Interesting thought about predictable and unpredictable death. I guess it's different for everyone. It would also be different if you knew it was coming, like my characters did. Hopefully, I end up conveying the right emotions through my characters in this situation. :)