Jumping on the wagon

A.K.A submitting my own opening paragraph of a story for jugment. The following bit was originally written in Hebrew (which is not my first language) and now I had translated it to English (which is not my first language either). So please point out anything that may need correcting and don't try to spare my feelings, I like brutal critisism.

Many friends and relatives wonder about my choice of profession. Wonder in the best case, and sneer behind my back in the worst. My grandmother never misses a chance to begin a monolog about how "the young just don't appreciate how easy they have got it. In my time you couldn't just put an ad in the paper. We had to hide and how the hell can you find customers and earn a living when you're supposed to hide your profession from everybody? And neither we had all those Chinese shops located just a car trip away, so we couldn't just stock up enough ingredients for a year. Let me see you trying to chase lizards for days and then dismembering the little bastards with your own hands, or growing mandrakes in your garden, all the while hoping that the neighbors won't notice and tattle to the inquisition. For this whole generations burned at the stake, so that an ungrateful brat like you would leave the family business to become a manicurist? Truly, today's youth is shameless".

Pigeon's picture

...is spelled with a "c"

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

The fact that you wrote it in Hebrew first threw me for a second. I thought that this was going to be a "my grandmother survived the holocaust" kind of story, but it's not. I would keep reading this, and I was hooked up until you went with manicurist. The life of a manicurist doesn't seem like it would be particularly interesting to me, largely because I then immediately drop your book into the "chick-lit, shopaholic-takes-manhatten" category in my head, but the writing is solid, and that's a good intro. So, I guess my feedback is, it seems like you're a pretty decent writer, but your particular choice of story might not appeal to me, specifically.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

I'm interested! I specifically started getting interested at the mention of having to "hide" the profession, and then the lizards, and on from there, so anything you can do to get to that point sooner would be good. I'm not entirely comfortable with having a whole paragraph in a quote like that, I think there might be some better way to format it.

It still needs work to make the hook/interesting bits pop out more, but I think it's got a solid bit of "ooh!" at the core. I don't really care much about manicurists either, but I wouldn't mind reading to find out why she went with that instead of witchery. This opening also sets we readers up to focus on the relationship between the protagonist and granny (and the rest of her family in general), so I hope you intended to explore that at least somewhat in your story. If not, then granny might need to take a less prominent role in the beginning.

One other minor change: "monolog" is properly spelled "monologue" in regular English.

Frog Princess's picture

Devotee

Doesn't much appeal to me either. The original idea was that the main character fails in her attempts to live a mostly normal life, because she unexpectedly starts to receive otherwordly clients. Apparently supernatural creatures also like to get their nails, face, claws, feathers etc, groomed. And since people (or whatever) tend to ramble alot to their beautitian about personal stuff, while getting treated, she hears alot of weird stories, and occasionaly even gets involved in them. That was the original intent, now I need to actually work on it. And I think from now on I will skip the writing in Hebrew phase and go directly to writing in English in order to reach a bigger crowd.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

...let me tell you, manicurists hear EVERYTHING. I think a manicurist with a supernatural clientele is an amazing idea. Run with it, fast!

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

Have you ever read The Enchanted Forest Chronicles or The Book of Enchantments by Patricia C. Wrede? They remind me of this a little.

Now that I know what you're shooting for, I'm a lot more interested. I do think that if you're going to attract your target audience (fantasy lovers, etc., I assume), they're probably people like you, and they're probably going to be a little put off by the manicurist bit, but I see where you're going with that. While I like this paragraph as an opening, maybe you want to start earlier in the life of your main character. If she's doing this to live a more "normal" life, rather than as a result of a passion for painting nails, maybe you want to start there. That frustration with familial or cultural expectations is something many people, especially those in your target audience, can relate to. Why doesn't she want to be a witch? What leads her to a career as a manicurist? That way, you're not dropping that on your readers right away, and you can get them hooked in the character and her issues and witchiness before you get to the "I'm running away to do people's nails" part.

Even consider keeping the first paragraph, but cutting out the "to become a manicurist" line in the sentence, "For this, whole generations burned at the stake, so that an ungrateful brat like you would leave the family business to become a manicurist". It would need some very minor reworking, but it could still work out well, and you could then go right into a little history or something from there. (Why doesn't she want to be a witch, how did she tell her family, etc.)

You might also consider another career...could she be doing tech support, and have clients that start calling in with problems with their magic carpets,etc? What about waitressing in a dive bar or a diner (

Something to keep in mind also, is that something this episodic may wind up reading more like a series of short stories with an overarching theme/plot. Don't take that as criticism...I've read stories like that that turned out pretty incredible (e.g. Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book), and it may give you another angle from which to look at your character(s ) and overall story.

Kittae's picture

Postulant

Ah! Yes, write for us! I'm interested!

Pedes's picture

Postulant

That I would like to read Biggrin

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Is intriguing. It's got some grammatical/compositional things that would need worked through that I would imagine come from writing in your second or third or fourth language (o_O), but on the whole a promising start.

Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

the above comments. it hooked me, but the manicurist part was kinda eh to me. i do like your explanation for it though. that does intrigue me.

Enid's picture

Devotee

it made me giggle.reminded me of my grandmother laying down a guilt trip with the added bonus of stirring a cauldron(which, let me tell you, is a hilarious image!)

Blue Coyote's picture

Devotee

"And neither we had all those Chinese shops located just a car trip away..."
Should be "And neither did we have all those..."
Otherwise nothing leapt out at me, the grandmother's speech is a bit archaic but perfectly acceptable coming from an old traditionalist woman (especially if she is really old)
The manicurist bit is sorta meh to me, maybe hairstylist would seem a little more glamorous? But your description of the premise is very intrigeing, I'm curious as to how intergrated the magical and real world are. Do ordinary people have something which makes them hard-of-noticing of the magic people?

Amy's picture

Supplicant

among those who say...run with it. Run as fast as yo can. It sounds like a great story line.

V's picture

Embodiment

The opening paragraph could be refined...the underlying idea sounds very interesting to me but you need to cut clutter in favor of simple, sharp hooks to really grab me into the world and the story. Your raw materials are quality, they just need better form. Never use two words if one will do; make every clause count.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... what V said. The premise is interesting, but the opening paragraph doesn't grab me - the hook to verbiage ratio seems a bit low.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

monologue ends in "ue." I think monolog is sometimes a variant spelling, but it's an odd un'.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

It HELPS that it's (on the surface) mundane and uninteresting, that she left the family business of witchcraft to do something extremely normal, but then gets sucked back into the supernatural by ending up as nail tech to the otherworld. Seriously, I love it. If you don't write it, I will, and I'll make a kajillion bucks.

ETA: In fact, you could make it the snarky answer to the current urban fantasy craze, especially since your main character will hear all the gossip as dished by people like Sooki Stackhouse, Merry Gentry and Anita Blake and her 10,000-member male harem. That's what I'd do. If you'd do it too, I release it! I release the grand idea to you! Fly, little idea, fly to Frog Princess and no one else! Biggrin

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

something along the lines of "after the Harry Potter phenomenon, none of my friends could fathom why I'd leave the family magic business for a career in manicure..."

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