This is the text as I received it from @maetowle (check her blog out!) She’s looking for feedback on her WIP, so feel free to chime in through the comment section :)
“So, tell me,” Keith said as we danced, “How does the girl we all used to make fun of come to be the happiest one of us at this thing?”
This thing he was referring to was our graduating class’ ten-year reunion. We were well into the evening, the open bar had been well taken advantage of, which was exactly why our organizers had booked it.
I didn’t know why I was still here. I hadn’t really even wanted to come. Mostly because, as Keith so gently pointed out, I had not by any stretch of the imagination been a popular member of the class. But then again, as he also pointed out, unlike ten years before, I was not the most miserable person there.
“I guess I just learned to do whatever I wanted since you all were going to make fun one way or another. I learned to make myself happy first and ignore naysayers second,” I said. This was not how I had once imagined dancing with this man.Many, many years before I had thought I loved him. I thought I had loved a lot of people through the years, and mostly I had been wrong.
Overall I think you write really well, and you have a lovely voice.
- I love the opening line, right into dialogue! So intimate and direct!
- Don’t forget to set up the stage a little though, to make sure the reader can visualize your characters in place
- "How does the girl we all used to make fun of come to be the happiest one of us at this thing” is a bit awkward. I would simplify
- I italicized This thing in the narration to make the sentence a bit clearer. Another way to go about it would be to put it in quotation marks
- Watch for repetitions: “We were well into the evening, the open bar had been well taken advantage of...” The way I solved the issue was by showing, rather than telling that we were well into the evening and the open bar had been taken advantage of. This also helped me with the setting
- “ I hadn’t really even wanted to come.” Although this sentence is grammatically correct it’s such a mouthful. I tried to simplify
- I would use “Keith had pointed out” because your narration is in the past and the “pointing out” happened already
- I don’t know if gently is the right adverb here. I get the humor, but maybe kindly? Subtly? Even better, get rid of the adverb altogether. I think the irony is still tangible
- Be wary of cliché expressions like “by any stretch of the imagination” Sometimes they really add to the voice, but in this example it makes the sentence a bit clunky because it separate the verb (had from been)
- Sometime repeating an expression can give strength to the narration, but in this case I replaced the second “pointed out”
- Unlike ten years “before”. I would also write before because “ago” to me does not sound right with a narration in the past tense but, as an FYI, I get called on it all the time. Most writers would say “ago” even if your narration is in the past
- I changed “I was not the most miserable person there” because of two reasons. First, the whole “here and there” you had going in that paragraph, second the passive and negative structure of that sentence slows down your narration (It’s much harder to imagine what your character is not rather than what she is)
- You said so much in between Keith’s line and our main character that you need to specifiy for the reader who’s speaking. The way you have it now, the reader will know it’s the MC speaking only at the end of the line, which means the reader cannot imagine her saying it
- Be careful of all those little extra words like “just” “well” and “even”. You can take most of them out
- “You all” sounds very southern. If that’s where your story is taking place that’s brilliant, otherwise you might want to use “you guys”
- I cut her line because it sounded like she was saying the same thing twice. While in a real dialogue this might very well happen, try to keep your dialogue trim and to the point
- “Many, many years before I had thought I loved him. I thought I had loved a lot of people through the years, and mostly I had been wrong.” Repetions can be powerful when well played, but this sentence has a bit much
- I have no idea about what the characters look like, so I sprinkled a few physical features here and there
- I love the last line! BUT! “Mostly” wrong implies she had at least one true love. Just saying ;)
“So, tell me,” Keith said as we danced, his piercing blue eyes drilling into mine, “How does the girl we all used to make fun of come to be the happiest one at this thing?”
This thing he was referring to was our graduating class’ ten-year reunion. A brunette who would have been pretty beneath the smudged mascara slipped on some unidentified liquid: beer, judging by the stale smell. Rob the Jock caught her in his arms and in no time the two were making out with no reserves right under the disco ball.
I didn’t know why I was still here. Coming had been a last-minute decision mostly because, as Keith had pointed out, I had not been popular, at all. But then again, as he also noticed, I was now doing better than most.
I looked at my pointy purple heels and a rebel brown curl fell into my eye, I shook it off and answered, “I guess I learned to do whatever I wanted since you all were going to make fun of me either way.”
This was not how I had imagined dancing with this man. I had thought I loved him once. I thought I had loved a lot of people through the years, and time after time I had been wrong.
Who am I to give you advice?
I am the author of The Italian Saga (#TIS) A series of YA novels taking place in Italy. The first three installments of the novels are available as e-books, paperbacks and audiobooks.
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