Author Topic: Change in POV - post also in chapter 1  (Read 128 times)

Offline apcross13

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Change in POV - post also in chapter 1
« on: December 28, 2021, 01:04:14 PM »
Just putting my first chapter in here, too - it seems to be more active. The chapter is only 4 pages long - Middle Grade paranormal. I recently rewrote the whole ms in 1st person, and my beta readers (a fifth grade class) feel that it moves better. I think I like it a lot better, actually.

CHAPTER 1

The cellar is the worst part of the house, and the sounds are the worst part of the cellar.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the charming character of old buildings, trinkets,  and books with ancient leather worn smooth by long-dead hands. You might find that morbid, but I can sit for hours and imagine the people who read my almost-complete set of Dickens over the years.  Mom and I both love wandering through antique shops and finding treasures to add to our interesting little collections. But the once-yellow farmhouse standing alone out on Neowash Road  isn’t charming or interesting. It’s just old. The paint is faded to a dingy gray and is peeling off of the clapboard siding. The cellar is literally a hole in the ground, with fieldstone walls and a hard-packed dirt floor. The house crouches on its plot of land with a mean, nasty look on its face.

Doing laundry is a nightmare. I never did like it, not in a bright laundromat, not in the normal-looking basement we had back in our Chicago apartment, with the neat line of washers and dryers. But when you have to drag your basket across a horrible, dark, empty cellar to the farthest corner where the washer and dryer squat like ugly trolls, it suddenly moves into first place in the Chore Horror Contest.

Mom and I are both pretty short, but the heavy timber beams on the cellar ceiling hang close enough to our heads that we instinctively duck when we walk underneath one. There are two naked bulbs dangling from the beams - the only source of light. They shine in these weak little pools that don’t quite reach the walls. There’s just enough sickly yellow glow to illuminate the narrow door that lurks on the wall opposite the appliance trolls. What’s behind that creepy little gem? I have no idea. I think its main purpose is to ensure that when you venture down into this pit, you’re completely surrounded by potential horror. The worst part? The only switch is at the top of the stairs. I have this fear that one day mom will walk past the cellar door and flip that switch off, not knowing I’m down there. I always talk loudly to the appliances so mom can hear me, just in case.
 
I’ve developed this clever habit of draping my clothes over the end of my bed and spritzing them with fabric freshener to put off the trip downstairs as long as possible. When everything I own finally gives off a skunky smell that I can’t ignore, I give in. I coax the dogs down with me for company and throw everything into the washer in a lump, looking over my shoulder as I race back up the crooked steps. Honestly, I’d rather clean the toilets.

Here’s the best part. A few weeks after we moved in, the scraping, dragging sounds began, sounds that came from that cellar - sounds that only I heard.

The first time I noticed them, I actually investigated. Mom wasn’t home from work yet, and these noises were really loud. I thought  maybe something was wrong with the furnace, which wasn’t running yet, but autumn was fast approaching. I flipped the light switch at the top of the stairs and hesitated for a second while the two measly little bulbs flickered before they grudgingly decided to stay on. The dogs were outside, of course. I put my foot on the unfinished wood of the first crooked, narrow step. I felt a breath of cool air run up the stairway from below. Which was odd. There are no windows down there to let a breeze in. It died down, and then the scraping sound cut through the stillness again. I couldn’t tell for sure, but it didn’t seem to be coming from the area of the furnace or the washer and dryer. I took a few more steps, holding on to the wobbly rail as though it would save me.

When I got to the fifth step (yes, I was counting,) the sound stopped completely. I waited for a minute or two. Silence. I finished my descent to the bottom hesitantly and looked around the large, empty space. Nothing. No signs of disturbance, no movement, no sound. Nothing. I glanced around one last time, and then turned my back and began to climb up to the kitchen. As I hit the last step, a soft but distinct thump came from below. I found myself outside the cellar with the door slammed shut behind me so fast that I honestly don’t remember doing it.
So, no more hunting for sounds in the cellar after that.

Now I sit at my desk, leaning into my laptop screen, squinting my eyes. I’m supposed to be wearing my glasses when I read or work on the computer, but I hate them. Mostly they just sit on the desk next to my keyboard. Vanity is a terrible thing.

“Fiona! I’m cooking! Let those poor dogs out!” Mom’s voice pierces the bedroom door.  I sigh and close  my laptop. When mom starts shrieking, there’s no ignoring her. I swing the back door open and stand aside so the girls can shove past me frantically.
Poppy, the floppy-eared hound mix, lopes on her long legs straight to the wooded  patch in the back of our yard to sniff out furry critters. Squirrels are her personal favorites, but she won’t turn up her doggy nose at a chipmunk or a rabbit. The inappropriately-named Buffy, who is solid black and roughly the size of a guinea pig, starts in right away digging one of the holes she is placing thoughtfully around the lawn. Guess who’s in charge of mowing? I hit more and more of that dog’s rotten holes with the old, rusty mower each week.

I dodge the spray of black earth that flies out from Buffy's tiny paws and effortlessly scale the knotted branches of my favorite climbing tree. It’s a gnarled old apple with a few withered fruits clinging on among the golden brown autumn leaves. There are a handful of these ancient apple trees still standing back here, mixed up with the mulberries and maples, stoic survivors of the kitchen orchard that must have once grown there. The yard is everything the house is not - comfortably ancient, full of living things, not horrifying.

My fears are irrational. I know this. There is a completely logical explanation for the uneasiness that grows stronger inside me with each passing day.  I just need to find it. The cellar is the worst part of the house, alright, but I hate the whole place. Mom doesn’t  understand. At all. Worse yet, I don’t understand myself.

Offline susan-louise

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Re: Change in POV - post also in chapter 1
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2021, 07:04:13 AM »
Just putting my first chapter in here, too - it seems to be more active. The chapter is only 4 pages long - Middle Grade paranormal. I recently rewrote the whole ms in 1st person, and my beta readers (a fifth grade class) feel that it moves better. I think I like it a lot better, actually.

Very happy to have a look, Apcross13.  I love reading first person narratives so this works really well (not that I saw your previous version).  Also, you have a very accomplished voice which leads me through the writing with ease and pleasure.   Made a few suggestions for tightening flow.
[/color]
CHAPTER 1

The cellar is the worst part of the house, and the sounds are the worst part of the cellar.  (What a fabulous opening!!)

Don’t get me wrong, I love the charming character of old buildings, trinkets,  and books with ancient leather worn smooth by long-dead hands (fingers might work better). You might find that morbid, but I can sit for hours and imagine the people who read my almost-complete set of Dickens over the years.  Mom and I both love wandering through antique shops and finding treasures to add to our interesting little collections.

You hooked me completely with this introduction.  I can find nothing to tweak or suggest. Really well done.

But the next para loses me a little.   It took some adjustment to make the mental switch from being hooked by  old curiosities, to reading about old house monstrosities.   So perhaps a small transition is missing, one that is clearer.   I know you reference this is her home, later, but at present, I've started wondering...and have stopped being drawn along.   Small tweak should do it!



But the once-yellow farmhouse standing alone out on Neowash Road  isn’t charming or interesting. It’s just old. The paint is faded to a dingy gray and is peeling off of the clapboard siding. The cellar is literally a hole in the ground, with fieldstone walls and a hard-packed dirt floor. The house crouches on its plot of land with a mean, nasty look on its face. Doing laundry is a nightmare. I never did like it, not in a bright laundromat, not in the normal-looking basement we had back in our Chicago apartment, with the neat line of washers and dryers. But when you have to drag your basket across a horrible, dark, empty cellar to the farthest corner where the washer and dryer squat like ugly trolls, it suddenly moves into first place in the Chore Horror Contest.  (excellent ambiance)

Mom and I are both pretty short, but the heavy timber beams on the cellar ceiling hang close enough to our heads that we instinctively duck when we walk underneath one. There are two naked bulbs dangling from the beams - the only source of light. They shine in these weak little pools that don’t quite reach the walls. There’s just enough sickly yellow glow to illuminate the narrow door that lurks on the wall opposite the appliance trolls. What’s behind that creepy little gem? I have no idea. I think Perhaps its main purpose is to ensure that when you venture down into this pit, you’re completely surrounded by potential horror. The worst part? The only switch is at the top of the stairs. I have this fear that one day mom will walk past the cellar door and flip that switch off, not knowing I’m down there. I always talk loudly to the appliances so mom can hear me, just in case.  (nice)
 
I’ve developed this clever habit of draping my clothes over the end of my bed and spritzing them with fabric freshener to put off the trip downstairs as long as possible. When everything I own finally gives off a skunky smell that I can’t ignore, I give in. I coax the dogs down with me for company and throw everything into the washer in a lump, looking over my shoulder as I race back up the crooked steps. Honestly, I’d rather clean the toilets.  (Wow...that's some admission and helps us see her acute level of anxiety about the cellar)

Here’s the best part. A few weeks after we moved in, the scraping, dragging sounds began, sounds that came from that cellar - sounds that only I heard.

The first time I noticed them, (impeded lovely flow you have going) I actually investigated. Mom wasn’t home from work yet, and these noises were really loud. I thought  maybe something was wrong with the furnace, which wasn’t running yet, but autumn was fast approaching. I flipped the light switch at the top of the stairs and hesitated for a second while the two measly little bulbs flickered before they grudgingly decided to stay on. The dogs were outside, of course. I put my foot on the unfinished wood of the first crooked, narrow step. I felt a breath of cool air run up the stairway from below. Which was odd. There are no windows down there to let a breeze in. It died down, and then the scraping sound cut through the stillness again. I couldn’t tell for sure, but it didn’t seem to be coming from the area of the furnace or the washer and dryer. I took a few more steps, holding on gripping to the wobbly rail as though it would save me.

When I got to the fifth step (yes, I was counting,) the sound stopped completely. I waited for a minute or two. Silence. I finished my descent to the bottom hesitantly (best without the adverb as you show us how hesitant she is) and looked around the large, empty space. Nothing. No signs of disturbance, no movement, no sound. Nothing. I glanced around one last time, and then turned my back and began to before climbing up to the kitchen. As I hit the last step, a soft but distinct thump came from below. I found myself outside the cellar with the door slammed shut behind me so fast that I honestly don’t remember doing it.  (Might be tighter: also avoid "found myself,"  I moved so quickly, slamming the door behind me that I honestly don't remember doing it)
So, no more hunting for sounds in the cellar after that.  (Phew, you are cranking up the creepy factor.)

Now I sit at my desk, leaning into my laptop screen, squinting my eyes (squinting means...narrowing one's eyes) I’m supposed to be wearing my glasses when I read or work on the computer, but I hate them. Mostly they just sit on the desk next to my keyboard. Vanity is a terrible thing.

“Fiona! I’m cooking! Let those poor dogs out!” Mom’s voice pierces the bedroom door.  I sigh and close  my laptop. When mom starts shrieking, there’s no ignoring her. I swing the back door open and stand aside so the girls can shove past me frantically. (you are showing the frantic movement with "shoving".  Delete the adverb)
Poppy, the floppy-eared hound mix, lopes on her long legs straight to the wooded  patch in the back of our yard to sniff out furry critters. Squirrels are her personal favorites, but she won’t turn up her doggy nose at a chipmunk or a rabbit. The inappropriately-named Buffy, who is solid black and roughly the size of a guinea pig, starts in right away digging one of the holes she is placing so thoughtfully around the lawn. Guess who’s in charge of mowing? I hit more and more of that dog’s rotten holes with the old, rusty mower each week. (Hm... this jars a bit - perhaps try: "I'm always hitting that dog's rotten holes with the rusty mower")

I dodge the spray of black earth that flies out from Buffy's tiny paws and effortlessly scale the knotted branches of my favorite climbing tree. It’s a gnarled old apple with a few withered fruits clinging on among[/color] the golden brown autumn leaves. There are a handful of these ancient apple trees still standing back here, mixed up with the mulberries and maples, stoic survivors of the kitchen orchard that must have once  flourished here. grown there. The yard is everything the house is not - comfortably ancient, full of living things. (I'd start a new sentence) Certainly not horrifying.  (nice...and like the juxtaposition of comfort vs creepy factors.  Also, great description of orchards etc)

My fears are irrational. I know this. There's is a completely logical explanation for the uneasiness that grows stronger inside me with each passing day.  I just need to find it. The cellar is the worst part of the house, alright, but I hate the whole place. Mom doesn’t  understand. At all. Worse yet still,  I don’t understand myself.

These 5 pp get off to a great start.  Wonderful flow and excellent writing!  I'm intrigued to see how it all evolves.  Well done!

Offline apcross13

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Re: Change in POV - post also in chapter 1
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2021, 08:48:19 AM »
Thanks so much! These are great improvements. You've nailed a real problem of mine - I am constantly, aggressively, redundantly overusing adverbs...

I enjoy reading your critiques! You are very generous with your time and your talents.

Anne

Offline susan-louise

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Re: Change in POV - post also in chapter 1
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2021, 09:29:21 AM »
Oh thank you, Anne, that's very kind.  As I said above - you have very 5 v strong pages there.  And what a brilliant opening.   Good luck with revisions.

Offline vivaviolet

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Re: Change in POV - post also in chapter 1
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2021, 11:06:15 AM »
Hi, Anne. This is really fun, perfect for MG.

I did wonder why the book didn't start with this scene:  A few weeks after we moved in, the scraping, dragging sounds began, sounds that came from that cellar - sounds that only I heard.

Offline apcross13

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Re: Change in POV - post also in chapter 1
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2021, 12:36:23 PM »
Thanks so much, Vivaviolet! It is interesting that you would have that wonder - one of my rewrites began with that! I'll ask my friend to read both openings to his class. They are beautifully honest.

Offline Jub666

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Re: Change in POV - post also in chapter 1
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2022, 08:29:18 AM »
I really enjoyed this and I hope you get published so I can read it!

The only thing I would add to the comments above are too be sure to use Mom (capital M) when using Mom as a replacement for her name (rather than saying 'my mom' in which case, the lowercase m is correct).

If you want any more beta readers, please reach out - I'd be very happy to oblige :)

Jx