Monday, May 26, 2014

Calling All Critiques: Entry #5 - It's Only Monday

Thank you to our first brave souls who have dared to share their work with us for critique.

Critiques are welcome from anyone and everyone. Just remember our rules: Be nice. Be constructive. Be specific. Be polite.

For anyone just joining us, read more about the event here and more about the rules here.

And, as mentioned previously, just for helping critique, please feel free to enter our Rafflecopter giveaway. One lucky person will win a $10 Amazon gift card, an eCopy of It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy by Quanie Miller, and an eCopy of Guarding Angel by S. L. Saboviec.

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It's Only Monday

by Toya Barnette
Genre: Adult fiction/chick-lit

When Taylor was summoned from Sales to the Front office she stepped out to a kaleidoscope of dancing color; the magnolia tree in full bloom reminded her of fresh cotton candy against a warm blue sky. Tangerine and white peonies covered the lush landscape and patches of daisies swayed rhythmically in the sweet breeze of spring. Instead of walking directly to the Front office, she opted to take the long way around the charmed boutique hotel to gather her thoughts. She was peeved with Kelly, Front Office Manager, for the lackadaisical management of her accounts. On Friday, Kelly had ensured her the new Front Desk agents were trained well enough to be placed on the floor. “Taylor, don’t worry, I got your back”, she had said.

Taylor walked briskly over the cobblestoned footbridge with her arms crossed and face downcast; she leaned over the wrought iron railing, plucked a jasmine flower from the vine that had migrated across the top and inhaled until her nostrils were filled to capacity with fragrance-it reminded her of Oahu. As the creek rippled quietly below, the resident crane stood majestically on an ivy covered boulder while a black squirrel scampered up the seventy year old oak tree planted by the original owners back in the 1950’s.

When she exhaled she wished a singular breathe could magically transport her back to the island. Life was so simple then; wake up in paradise, jog down to the beach, bask in the sun’s glow until noon, take the long way home past Diamondhead, nap, wake up and go to work with the band at night. Each day belonged to her – she owned it until she became pregnant by the love of her life, miscarried, hastily decided to part ways and moved back to California for a fresh start. Heartbreak had a way of ushering in a new reality and at the time Taylor welcomed the change with open arms. These days her time was tied like a noose to someone else’s bottom line. Somewhere along her career path she had lost the passion she once felt when she started in the hospitality industry over ten years ago by happenstance. She loved helping people but something strange had happened. People had become increasingly rude and brash. Everything had to be done instantaneously in this internet driven world. When had the industry become so scientific; detailed charts of guest stay patterns, weekly analysis of revenue and competitive rates in the marketplace, unrealistic monthly budgets that if missed by one penny would send ownership into a tizzy. Taylor felt as if the globe was spinning out of control. She had always dreamed of having her own business, maybe now was the time. Perhaps she would use the 100 acres her great-grandfather had bequeathed to build a non-profit organization for underprivileged children; she always thought children were the purist form of humanity. It had saddened her deeply when she had lost a chance to become a mother. “Oh well, another time, another place”, she reminisced.

There’s More to Critique!

After leaving your comments, don’t go yet! That is, if you have time, we cordially invite you to give more feedback on some of our other brave souls. Head on over to one or more of these blogs to see some more great entries:
Thanks again to everyone participating in this critique event!


Brian Basham said...

I love the description in this piece. I can see and feel the scene. I can tell a lot of thought went into them, and I wish I could write my descriptions that well.

I still don't have an idea of what the story is about. Within these first 500 words you need a hook to get people interested. Maybe you could start with the incident that caused her to be called to the front office? That way you could start with a conflict that will pull people in wondering if she'll be fired.

I think shifting from past tense to present tense might help. Your writing seems too passive. The story is told in past tense which feels natural to us all. Normally we're telling a story of something that we were a part of or witnessed. For people reading the story it's happening right now as they read it.

The main character seems to be taking her time on her way to the front office. Stopping to smell the flowers. I would suggest that you pick up the pace, but that could be just my preference for a faster paced story. Some people love flowery descriptions while others will skip over it. You mix your characters thoughts in with the descriptions, which is good, but you don't have much happen in that time. Your character thinks about all of her frustrations all at once. Instead of doing that maybe have each of them come up as another event reminds her of them individually. Like after her leisurely walk to the front office, if someone yells at her for taking her time then you can use that "internet driven world" line. That would spread it out a bit and help move readers through the story. I would rather the character think more about what is happening now than have her voicing general frustrations that don't have any relation to what is happening.

Anonymous said...

I love the descriptions and feel like I'm there. They are very well executed and set up an atmosphere of beauty and serenity, only to be broken by ugly memories of the past. You did a good job contrasting Taylor's surroundings with her inner turmoil.

I do feel that Brian is right - not enough happens in this short time. While the description is great, it might be best to intersperse it throughout the narrative to further the depth of the contrast. The reader should hear a little more about the main character's situation and what's going on besides her memory of the miscarriage (or a little more about the sadness/depression/upset the miscarriage caused). There should be more straight-forward, in-depth reasons for the tension she's feeling, which can still be done in a short amount of time/words. It's just a matter of really figuring out what you're trying to get across and intensifying your prose to accomplish your goal in this scene instead of stretching things out.

I like your writing style and think you have talent! Good job!

Toya Barnette said...

Thank you for taking the time to provide constructive feedback Brian! I will certainly take your suggestions into thoughtful consideration.

Toya Barnette said...

Thank you so much; I really appreciate the feedback!

Anonymous said...

I too enjoyed your descriptions, Toya! To be honest, when I was reading the piece, I was under great stress, and the rippling creek with its resident crane did wonders to my mood :)

Adding to the constructive comments of my fellow bloggers, I will say that what struck me as a discordance was the heroine's disposition in all the lush description. Taylor is peeved. You also say that "Taylor walked briskly over the cobblestoned footbridge with her arms crossed and face downcast". I'd think that a person who takes the long route to "gather her thoughts" wouldn't have an eye to appreciate so much around her. So maybe you could tone down the description of her surroundings in the first paragraph a bit. When Taylor gets to the creek, it's another story. She pauses there to take in the view, so that part is both beautiful and relevant.

As Christie (proofpositive) said, I love your writing style! Keep up the good work!

Toya Barnette said...

Thank you! All of your comments have been extremely helpful and encouraging.