Wednesday, November 19, 2008

To Get Me Back in the Mood

Well, dear reader, it's your lucky day! To get myself back in the NaNoWriMo mood, I'm going to give you an amazing exclusive excerpt from my NaNoWriMo Novel! Yes! I know! Okay, okay. Stop it. Stop laughing! You look ridiculous snorting like that. Stop it. I'm serious!
So, I figure laying this out there to the world and making me all literarily (see how I make up words?) vulnerable will either:
A. Embarrass me enough to finish this dang thing
B. Humiliate me enough to fix the dang thing
C. Justify ignoring my children for another two weeks so I can do both A. and B.
D. Provide some humor in this dreary time of Cheryl-being-all-depressed-and-not-really-up-to-writing-anything-thought-provoking-although-she-enjoys-it-so-much-in-general (and quoting Jane Austen because she can't help it).

Please note that this novel is chick-lit. Or an attempt at chick-lit. And it is a first draft. A very drafty first draft, I might add. The title of this book is...not in existence yet. I tend to write my titles after the fact, a habit I just realized could actually be the entire reason my books never finish. Oh, no! Blast! Now I have to re-think the whole creative process. Oh, why couldn't I have remained in ignorance just a little bit longer?! Curses!
Okay, okay. So, here's the excerpt. I'm not expecting praise or critique, although both are welcome. Did I just say that?
Did she just say that?
Yes, I said that: Praise AND Critique are welcome. But I do draw the line at personal insults, so please don't mention how hideous the zit on my right cheek looks, all right? I swear! Doesn't the skin know not to produce acne after the age of 25, which, in my case, would have been 5 years ago? Sigh, sigh, sigh.

NaNo Excerpt:
As soon as they were out of sight, Britt whispered, “Ooh! I think I just found my date.”
Anna mumbled “Excuse me” and walked quickly down the other hallway to the bathroom. She went inside, turned on the fan and the light, shut the door, and promptly threw-up into the toilet.


Anna wiped her mouth with some paper towels, and stared at herself in the mirror. Luckily she hadn’t had much for breakfast, and her retching had been drowned out by the sound of the fan. She fixed her hair and rinsed out her mouth; she was back at the reception desk within two minutes.
“What’s wrong!” asked Britt. Obviously concerned, she sat Anna down and demanded an explanation. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine” Anna sighed.
“You don’t look fine.”
“Yeah, well, I am fine.”
“I don’t believe you, Anna. You just puked!”Anna shot her a shocked expression.
“Don’t look at me like that! I heard you. Now why would that handsome new lawyer make you go throw up? Did he really rattle you that much?”
Anna shook her head. “It’s not that.”
“Well, then what is it?”
Anna could hear Smith Sr. and Ryan coming back up the hallway, and she whispered fiercely “Not now, Britt. I’ll tell you later.”
“Lunch, okay?”
“Okay. Lunch.”
Anna wheeled her chair over by the phone and proceeded to call stores about furniture. She needed the distraction and she didn’t want to talk with Ryan anymore. She didn’t even dare look at his face.

Wasn't that amazing!?
Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Now that I'm reading it with new eyes, I'm seriously about ready to hide myself under a rock until June.
However, I cannot quit! Never Give Up! Never Surrender! (see how I quote random SciFi comedies, too?)

P.S. Dear reader, please be honest with me, though. This post is amazingly silly and it's because humor is my self-defense mechanism (I should totally be a therapist), but I honestly need some harsh feedback on this excerpt. I know it's hard to say since it's such a short piece of the novel, but if you were to read this, would you want to know what happened before and after? Does it draw any curiosity? Or is it really just drivel? I can take it! Hack away!

P.P.S. Also, if you want more excerpts, let me know. Depending on how this goes, I may do one or two more before the end of the month (not that I would make a habit out of soliciting random/public critique! But doing it for NaNoWriMo doesn't seem so far off the beaten path for some reason...)


Jolene said...

Keep posting the excerpts! I want to know why Anna is throwing up. Is she pregs? Is she married? See, I NEED to know more!

Rachel and Nathan Fisher said...

I assumed she was bulemic - I don't know why.

Yes, I'm totally interested and want to know what happened before/after. Keep sharing!

Also, I have some WW questions for you - I'll email you.

Julie said...

So, I totally thought bulemia at first, but then I hoped I was wrong.

Keep posting.

Cheryl said...

Yeah, okay. This isn't working very well, which isn't surprising because I only gave you guys a glimpse of it, right? Live and and learn.

She's actually traumatized by running into a guy who she had just spent 15 years trying to forget --I probably should have made some kind of synopsis at the beginning...

Amanda D said...

Ok, Cheryl, you have me dying to know what happens before and after. I didn't think bulemia, I really thought that it was a reaction to the guy.

Good luck getting it written!

Michelle said...

I didn't think bulimia either. Keep going.

OH and I'm almost 40 and have TONS of zits. :)

Weatherspoon Family of 6 said...

I really liked it interesting I want more.....
Keep up the good work! I really wish I could write....

The Wiz said...

Ok, here you go: (put on your thick skin, but I really am trying to be helpful)

"She went inside, turned on the fan and the light, shut the door, and promptly threw-up into the toilet."

It would be better if you shortened it - "She went in and promptly threw up." We don't need to know that she locked the door, turned on the fan, etc. etc. It's unnecessary and removes the impact. If she's "promptly" throwing up, she's certainly taking her sweet time about it. Just get her to the toilet. (Oh, and "in the toilet" is unnecessary as well, we assume that's where she threw up if she made it to the bathroom.)

Also, "threw-up" does not have a dash, I believe. (could be a typo).

You can even keep the sound of the fan drowning out her retching in the next paragraph, most public places have a fan going anyway, we don't need to see her turning it on.

And, does Britt know her really well or something, how does she know Anna just puked? I mean, she just went to the bathroom. Unless they're really tight, she wouldn't pick up on that. (This could possibly be explained with more of the book.)

"What's wrong!" Typo. Needs a question mark, either before the !, or in place of it.

Last thing: "She needed the distraction and she didn’t want to talk with Ryan anymore."

Shouldn't that be "talk ABOUT Ryan anymore?" We haven't seen her talk with him yet. Of course, if she was just talking to him in an earlier scene that we don't see, then this is fine. But it seems to me she just saw him, hasn't talked to him yet. (or within the last 15 years, anyway.)

There now, that wasn't too bad, was it?

Good for you for even attempting a novel, I keep thinking I'll start, but I never do. It's that tricky thing called "plot" that always eludes me.

Desi said...

Obviously it’s kind of hard to critique without having the before and after information. We don’t know if you are giving too much or too little information because we don’t know what has happened up to this point or if you are explaining it later on.

All in all though I think it’s great for a first draft!

I agree with pretty much everything the Wiz said though…maybe you could have her be your editor when you go to publish it :)

Cheryl said...

Note to self: Give synopsis of plot and make excerpts of scenes longer. Do this in next NaNo post!

That's what I'm talkin' about! Thank you!

Annette Lyon said...

The Wiz is good at this. :)

Two things I'd add

1) Avoid exclamation points. The more they're used, the less impact they have, and the dialogue ends up coming across as everyone screaming. 1-2 per book is sort of a decent limit to shoot for.

2) You could work in a little more contextual detail into the dialogue--what I call "beats"--so we don't have floating heads talking but we see facial expressions, gestures, thoughts, etc.

Yes, finish it! Yes, I'm curious as to what's going on and what will happen next. Way to be brave and put it out there!

The Wiz said...

Oh, one more thing - Anna "wheeling her chair" over to the phone makes it sound like she's in a wheelchair, which we know she's not. Maybe replace it with "kicked" or "rolled". Although "rolled" might have the same problem...maybe just "moved" although that doesn't give you the visual you're looking for....

Lizzie said...

I love editing for people with whom I have no emotional connection. However with friends, it's hard, because you don't want to hurt their feelings. So I'm glad someone else started the editing, so I can just add on! So, yeah, totally agree on the edits so far. Here's another editing note I would add:

“Don’t look at me like that! I heard you. Now why would that handsome new lawyer make you go throw up? Did he really rattle you that much?”
This dialogue doesn't ring true to me. It sounds like something that was written trying to sound like actual dialogue, but not like anything anyone would actually say in real life. But you're not alone in this, I read a lot of dialogue like this, and I just think "Where is this world where people talk like this?" You should have no problem fixing this, however, because if you look at your own blog writing you have an awesome ability to write with a strong voice. I would recommend going over your dialogue and reading it out loud as if you were talking. The phrase "Now why would that handsome new lawyer make you go throw up?" would never be said by Cheryl.

*Note: I had a good example of how to phrase it more naturally, but my VT came while I was typing this and now an hour has passed and it's escaped me. But I'm sur eyou can fix it, if not it'll come back to me I'm sure.

Amber said...

I love that last part that Lizzie wrote, about voice. I think everytime I tried to write a story that's what would happen. It just wasn't natural. I thought it was good but would have liked more. I didn't get that she was throwing up in response to seeing him. My first thought was pregnant and honestly, I was wondering, what is Cheryl writing? :) Give us some more. Please. :)

Michele said...

Maybe it could be she slid her chair over?
I thought she was prego too. I read a LOT of chick lit (shelves of it) and my first thought was she had a 1 night stand with said hot lawyer and was prego and didn't want to talk about it. Clearly not what you are going for, but just putting in my 2 cents.
Either way, I am excited to read more. I love chick lit. It is nice to have a fun read that only takes a couple hours. :)

flip flop mama said...

It's intriguing to me! I want to know what history Ryan and Anna have!

Anonymous said...

You're awesome (logical awesome!--dude, third time I've said that today--wait, maybe it's the fourth!) for doing this and having three times as many words as I have. Which reminds me that I did finally set up my profile, which is also empty except for username.

About "throwing up promptly," I vote for dumping the "promptly" and saying she threw up in the toilet. Adverbs are low man on the totem pole. I want to know where she threw up. I will assume she did it in an expeditious manner, since that is how throwing up is usually done.

I could totally satirize a writing workshop critique-circle. (Correction: scratch "totally" as unnecessary adverb.)

I am curious about what comes before and after. I am always curious what comes before vomiting. Not always curious about what comes after, but since I know that she's cleaned up, my curiosity is piqued. Why doesn't she want to see Ryan? I must know. ("Get used to disappointment." "Okay.")

I would give you more feedback, but you have inspired me to work on my novel instead.

Alison Wonderland said...

More please.
And I actually liked her wheeling her chair over, I totally got the rolling desk chair thing.

Conflicting coment are, I know, super helpful, so you're welcome.

becca said...

Ditto to the above editorial comments and keep posting those excerpts, because this is about the only place and time I have to read chick lit. Thanks for the bright spot, kiddo.