Red Pencil Thursday with Stacy McKitrick
Today our victim/volunteer is Stacy McKitrick. My comments are in red. Her responses are in blue. Be sure to add your 2 cents in the comment section. Not only will Stacy appreciate your input, strongyou’ll be entered in the daily drawing for one of my books!
THE UNCOMMON ONE
I’m not sure about this title. It doesn’t really tell me anything about what type story it is or give me a hint what it’s about. Only that someone is uncommon, which can be good or bad.
I had the hardest time coming up with a title to begin with. I used that because both the hero & heroine are uncommon. She’s an uncommon human, he’s an uncommon vampire, although it’s more on her than him. I’m not sold on the title, so if anyone suggested something better, I’m not against changing it.
If Sarah Daugherty was smart, she’d live somewhere it never got cold. If she was smart, she’d have never married Steven. If she was smart, she’d have never let her mother get the best of her.
Yeah, if she was smart.
Brilliant opening. I love using a set of threes. If, if, if… one less would have been too few to establish a rhythmic pattern in the prose, one more would have been overkill. Because you added ‘Yeah’ before the 4th if, you broke the pattern and made the last sentence the stinger. Excellent! Plus we’ve learned some important things about our heroine in short order. She’s not happy with where she lives, her marriage is/ or was trouble and she has issues with her mother. Most readers can relate with at least one of those universal problems. We’re immediately on Sarah’s side.
Thank you! I did struggle with getting the right opening paragraph.
She stared at her reflection in the mirrored doors of the elevator. Somewhere beneath the white down-filled coat and pink scarf was a pathetic twenty-four-year-old divorcee, waiting for the doors to open and blast her with air that belonged in a freezer. They didn’t disappoint.
After the brilliant opening you committed a cardinal sin—using a mirror so your heroine can describe herself. It’s done to death and will make editors’ yawn. I love your details, down-filled coat, pink scarf. I can see her shivering. Why not skip the mirror and go into deep POV with Sarah? Make us feel her shiver even though she’s wearing the white down-filled coat and pink scarf.
They didn’t disappoint stopped me for a second. I had to go back to see which noun They was standing in for.
I guess because I always look at myself in mirrored elevator doors, it didn’t seem strange that she would too, but I get what you’re saying. I’ll change it with her shivering inside her coat and go from there.
Her friend, Lori laughed. “You are such a wimp. We’re not even outside and you act like it’s below zero.”
“It is below zero in Celsius.” Ever since the events that unfolded prior to her divorce, she’d been cold. No matter what she did, she couldn’t get warm enough. Winter wasn’t helping any, either.
Ever since the events that unfolded prior to her divorce is a little clunky. Something important obviously happened and it’s good to put a hook in here for it. We need a bit more for a hook to be effective in pulling us forward.
I’ll have to think about how to change that (I’m not quick when it comes to making changes!). I wanted to convey something happened, but not what – at least not right away.
Three cheers for giving your heroine someone to talk to! It’s important to see the protagonist in action and interaction instead of rumination.
My beginning used to just involve Sarah, but I read somewhere it was better to have her interact with someone, so I thought introducing her friend earlier would work.
“Yeah, but last I saw, we were still measuring temps in Fahrenheit.” Lori stepped out of the elevator and then looked up. “Gee, what happened to the lights? It looks like a freakin’ tomb in here. You’re the workaholic. Do they normally go off after seven?”
“They never did before.” The public garage was not known for its brightness, but the difference from the moderately lit elevator was noticeable. Now it wasn’t only cold, it was dark – just like a dungeon.
There’s a place to tighten your prose here. If you cut but the difference from the moderately lit elevator was noticeable, you don’t lose anything and the pace is quicker. After all, the important part of this sentence is the comparison to a dungeon. May as well get to it sooner.
You’re right, it does sound better. I must constantly tell myself that sometimes “less is more.”
Sarah glanced at the ceiling and was able to spot some broken bulbs before her light source was cut off. When she looked back at Lori, she was greeted with her departing figure.
Another tightening suggestion. Instead of was able to spot, how about simply spotted? Also there are times when plain prose is best. You don’t need to tell us your character looked at something. We’re in her POV. Just tell us what she sees and we’ll follow. Was greeted with her departing figure is wordy for action that’s speeding up. How about Lori did an about face and headed back toward the elevator?
Guess I’ll have to re-look at this paragraph again, too. I see what you’re saying, though. Crap.
After being propositioned in the morning by Brian – a stranger she had met on the way into work – and now with the missing lights, did she really want to be left alone? At least there wasn’t any sign of Brian. In fact, the garage was eerily deserted.
She trotted to catch up with Lori.
“So, you coming in late tomorrow like Mark suggested?” Lori opened her purse and pulled out her keys.
Ok, I misunderstood. I thought Lori was freaked by the dark too and went back into the building. She must be heading for her car. If that’s the case, we need to know. The Prime Directive in writing is: First, be clear.
Thanks. No one else caught this and it’s so ingrained in my mind, I didn’t see it, either.
“No, I have a client scheduled at eight-thirty.”
Lori shook her head and rolled her eyes. “Why am I not surprised? You work way too much. Your client wouldn’t have cared if you postponed preparing his taxes. No one has to tell me twice to come in late. I’m sleeping in.”
Yes, it was only January, and yes, she could have rescheduled. But damn it, she liked going to work. Being a minion at a tax accounting business wasn’t glamorous, but it paid the bills and filled her days. And she was only on a temp-to-hire basis. She needed this job. Maybe if there was a special man in her life, she would act differently. Who knows, maybe he was out there looking for her, wanting to love her for herself and not some stupid agenda. Until she met him, work was all she had. At least her job gave her some satisfaction of helping people.
This feels a little like author intrusion. You’re giving us an info dump once you start in about a special man. I’d cut everything after She needed this job.
I really try to avoid the info dump, too. I guess in trying to show her motivation I went a little overboard!
They came up to her friend’s car first and stopped. “Told my sister I would babysit tonight
And we end mid-sentence because I have a 500 word limit on RPT excerpts. Now I know I tell writers it’s good to tease their readers, but you also have to deliver sooner rather than later. Is something bad going to happen in the dungeon-like garage? You’ve set us up for it. If it’s not coming fairly soon, we’ll feel as if you’ve misled us a bit.
Yes, something bad does happen in the garage and it happens as soon as Lori leaves. I just didn’t want to rush into it. I wanted the reader to get a feel for Sarah and maybe root for her, too.
I was rooting for her from the get-go because of your very strong start, Stacy. Resist the urge to go slow. Hit the ground running and don’t look back. The reader will keep up with you and bless you for taking them on the ride. If it feels as if I’ve been a little tough on you, it’s because I see some real promise here. Keep up the good work!
Thank you, Mia! Your comments have been great. I don’t mind tough at all. I won’t improve if I don’t see what I’m doing wrong. All I want to do is write the best damn book I can. I love these characters and want others to love them, too!
Born and raised in California, Stacy McKitrick now lives in Dayton, Ohio with her husband of 30 years. She has worked many jobs, including a stint in the US Army. After spending many years looking for her passion, she finally found it in writing. Blog: http://stacysrantings.blogspot.com Website: http://www.stacymckitrick.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Stacy-McKitrick/100001084333779
If you’re an aspiring writer who’d like to be a Red Pencil Thursday volunteer, please contact me through the Contact page and I’ll send you the details.