Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Calling All Critiques: Entry #15 - Fate Captured

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Fate Captured (An Aegean Lovers novel)

by Maria / MM Jaye
Genre: Contemporary Romance

“Monica, hold on.” Delia tucked the wired earbud back into her ear and clutched her tablet again with both hands, pointing its camera forward. “I should’ve bought one of those wireless headsets.” She sidestepped a dumpster that sat majestically across the sidewalk, blocking her way. “Okay, I’m turning left now. Jesus. This street is even seedier!”

“For the love of God, why didn’t you take the main street like a normal person? You’d be there by now, plus I wouldn’t have to worry about you mingling with the Athens backstreet elite!”

A normal person wouldn’t need visual aids to help her pen a ‘gripping crime novel set in Athens and the Greek islands’, and there's nothing like a back alley to capture those. Besides, I think I got the right street now. The name is—”

“Karytsi Street, according to Google Maps. This one should feed right into Stadiou Avenue. You’ll find the Arger Enterprises building at the left corner.” Monica’s sharp exhalation tickled her ear. “Oh my God! I’ll finally get to see the actual building!”

Delia shook her head. Monica was a week away from leaving Boston to come to Athens herself, but, unlike Delia, who had just plucked up the courage to give up a promising corporate career, Monica was taking the first step toward starting one. She had been called for an interview at Arger Enterprises, one of the leading marble industries in the world--Monica’s one and only target jobwise.

“What’s with you and your love for the big marble company? You act as if I’m about to photograph your favorite celebrity!” Her prolonged tutting carried her distaste all the way to Boston. “When I’m trying hard to shed my corporate white collar skin, after you kept harping on and on about pursuing my dream of becoming a writer, don't expect me to share your excitement about entering that dreadful world.”

“One man’s dream another’s headache, they say. You’re not me. And I’ve told you time and again I have my reasons to want to work there. Now watch your step. I’m after some footage myself. But not of chipped sidewalks.”

Delia squinted as her lens caught the blazing Greek sun. “How do you know the sidewalks are chipped? And stop deflecting!” She swerved to bypass an ancient looking hydrant. Not “ancient” in the Greek sense of the word, as in thousands of years old, but the fact that it was squashed and half-torn out of the curb meant it hadn’t been used in ages. Delia hovered her tablet over it and pinched out the screen to zoom in. That could sure be used as a prop in her crime storyline. Maybe when Sven is chased by Ukrainian thugs. Sven could look over his shoulder while running and stumble on the hydrant.

Or maybe I try to find a Greek rather than a Scandinavian name for my hero. She had a solid plot outline, but in terms of character name-giving, Cordelia Swan, aspiring crime novelist, was the worst godmother ever!

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9 comments:

Leo Valiquette said...

I liked this lead in to the story -- we're going somewhere with Delia and I can only assume she's heading straight for Plot Driver #1 and want to see where and how that happens. We also get an immediate feel for the setting and these two characters.

Now here's my quibbles:

Something that always jumps out at me is background on a character when they are first introduced. It often reads to me like the POV character has just stopped the story to deliver an aside to the reader. There isn't much of that here, but it's there in para 5 and it jumps out at me as too much detail for now. I think we glean as much as we need to know for now about Delia and Monica's respective career aspirations from the existing dialogue between the two.

The only other quibble was me betraying my age by having to Google search to understand what "tutting" is -- though I still don't know how Delia is doing it with a tablet in her hands and how it is an expression of distaste.

But, overall, great stuff.

mmjayewrites.com said...

Leo, thank you so much for commenting! Yes, I agree with avoiding any backstory in the beginning. I'll try to push this info further down. You have a point with "tutting" being heard over a dangling microphone. Maybe I'll have Delia bring it closer to her lips to make sure Monica hears it loud and clear, or just scrap it altogether. Thanks again!

Brian Basham said...

I really enjoyed the dialogue between Delia and Monica in this one. They have chemistry that isn't easily attained. I can tell they have been friends for a long time. That is really well done.

Whenever you stray away from the dialogue, you delve into the realm of exposition. Your fifth paragraph can be cut sompletely. That information will come out as the story is told. At the end I'm waiting for the conversation to continue, but then you go into the description of the fire hydrant. You can tighten that description up a bit.

At the very end where it mentions the naming of characters feels like the author winking at the reader. It seems more like a narrator giving us an inside look rather than part of the story. This might break the flow of the story a bit when it's just getting started. The line itself is good, but it might be better used as a comment another character can use. Delia can then react to it.

frostiemoss said...

I found this excerpt very refreshing and original. Fancy having two characters introduced while talking via a tablet! Well done for the ingenuity. Other than that, I also felt there was perhaps too much info in places and even some long sentences that could be cut down in size. I would have preferred to have a better description of the street, passers by maybe giving Delia odd looks, smells, birds, that sort of thing, maybe even a comical near miss from bumping into a lamp post or a local? I personally see no problem with tutting with one's hands full. It's a sound that solely involves the mouth and it is THE main sound of distaste so that reference was spot on!

Nicholas C. Rossis said...

Lovely excerpt. Personally, I liked the hydrant - nice detail, that leads very naturally to the fact of her writing a book.

Parts of it beg for more sensory information. For example, the dumpster is bound to stink, especially on a hot day; this would have amplified the seediness of the back street. Therefore, I might have written something along the lines of:

A dumpster sat majestically across the sidewalk, blocking her way. She sidestepped it, scrunching her nose at the offending odors rising from its bowels. “Okay, I’m turning left now. Jesus. This street is even seedier!”

If you wanted maximum effect, you might even say:

She sidestepped it, scrunching her nose with disgust at the offending odors rising from its bowels.

If you wanted to throw in a description, you could easily add that, too:

A dumpster sat majestically across the sidewalk, blocking her way. She sidestepped it, scrunching her nose at the offending odors rising from its bowels, a look of disgust miring her beautiful face. She tucked a long, loose strand of black hair behind her ear, her green eyes glaring at the rusty monstrosity. “Okay, I’m turning left now. Jesus. This street is even seedier!”

All in all, a very enjoyable excerpt!

mmjayewrites.com said...

Brian, thank you for commenting! Your points are valid, and I will definitely take them into consideration in my edits.

mmjayewrites.com said...

Fros, you're so right as to the length of sentences and too much info. As this was a first draft, I put a lot out there, and I'll try to cut it down in my edits. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

mmjayewrites.com said...

Nicholas!!!!! How did you know that she has jet black hair and green eyes? I'm dumbfounded! Thanks for your pointer re the dumpster, but I sort of pictured it as a construction waste dumpster not for garbage... But you're right: I should specify that if I'm not going to make her cringe at the smell. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Nicholas C. Rossis said...

Lol - great minds think alike, I guess! :D

Obviously, it's up to you what kind of dumpster you'll place there. A stinking garbage one would definitely add to the seediness, of that's your aim, while a construction would be "cleaner". It really depends on what you're going for. :)