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View Full Version : Working Title - I am Scarlet Stephens - 2nd Scene in a New Adult Romance ~ 2800 words



TKent
June 30th, 2014, 06:33 PM
MOVED TO PROTECTED AREA:

http://www.writingforums.com/threads/149048-Working-Title-Scarlet-Stephens-Prologue-amp-1st-Chapter-5000-words-Romance?highlight=

Cran
October 5th, 2014, 07:42 AM
Yeah. I'm sorry I can't point the finger to anybody as a likely reader*, and therefore more likely in the know about stories like this. Apart from the odd minor proof bit (a comma here, perhaps a word choice there), I can't see anything to hold up as "wrong" or even "needs work".

It seems to flow well enough, didn't get bogged down in descriptions but didn't leave me wondering if a description was needed anywhere. From what (mercifully) little I have encountered of portrayals of teenage girls going into the throes of relationships and boy choices, you seem to be on the same street, and certainly in the right neighbourhood.

If it were up to me, I'd say keep going as you are with it.

*I imagine that some of our younger members would be closer to the characters to give the sort of sound perspective I lack in this instance.

TKent
October 5th, 2014, 02:05 PM
Hey Cran,

Thanks for taking the time to read this :) especially given it isn't your genre..LOL :) I always appreciate feedback, and here doubly so since the story is so far out of the wheelhouse of most of the readers here!


From what (mercifully) little I have encountered of portrayals of teenage girls going into the throes of relationships and boy choices

Cran
October 5th, 2014, 02:18 PM
I guess I generally avoid it because my own experience was mostly particularly nasty (the less said about that, the better), and a large part of the fraction that wasn't was angst and anguish and - I only found out later, too late - complete obliviousness to all of the "yes, come on" messages from the young ladies I desperately wanted to be with at the time.

There were the rare moments of complete confidence and more success than I could safely handle ... followed by the navel-gazing of "why am I not like that more often?" All things considered, I openly welcomed legal adulthood.

mrmustard615
October 5th, 2014, 03:07 PM
Wow, TK. I'm glad I stumbled into this. I really liked the detail and he emotions that were going through Scarlet. It makes me curious if there is going to be some sort of a triangle involving her, Jackson, and Blake. Oh the drama :lol:

Anyway it was a very good read. I think you had another chapter in here too that I read now that I remember. I recall that was also very well written. Anyway keep doing what you do (or something like that) :lol:

Don't you love it when someone revives your thread (i.e Cran)

LeeC
October 5th, 2014, 05:01 PM
I've read both your first scene and this piece more than once on going back through the board, and didn't see how I might constructively comment. For whatever it's worth, beyond the preface of the first piece which caught my attention (liked), the remainder of the first piece reminded me of a modern version of that hapless [I even think in a Dickensian manner] phase of life I tend to gloss over. This second piece though (for reasons I'm at a loss to articulate), had an intimate feel in my perception of the protagonist. Not being able to delineate the writing aspects that affected my perception, I didn't comment. Another thing that dissuaded my commenting on such, was that I didn't want to come across as one of these taught formula writers that believe you have to grab the reader forcibly from the git-go (which likely has something to do with decreasing attention span and increasing immediate gratification). Generally I don't give up on a book till I've given it a fair chance, though sometimes I wish I had ;-)

Maybe a brief overview of my perspective might help. Back in the forties my perception of the women in my life was essentially that of integral members of the family unit, all of us doing our parts as best we could in trying conditions. There were childish annoyances, such as my smart mouthed older female cousin, and sometimes my sister, seemingly taking advantage, though in hindsight likely just acting out against the difficulties of their roles in seeing other roles as less demanding or more interesting. For the most part the atmosphere was one of respect. Such went so far in my childhood culture as carefully watching one's language in mixed company, and showing deference even when feeling slighted. On the other hand, while I don't know what women discussed in private, I do know that men could sometimes be coarse.

Into my teens in the fifties, my interactions of course broadened, though not at the rate they do today — not as many opportunities in a one room schoolhouse, or a roughly, monthly Saturday night dance fifty miles distant.

The point being, to me, that in our early years, generally speaking, we're not only in a human bubble, but in a self-angst bubble that we compensate for in varying ways.

This may seem the long way around, but maybe that is what I saw better captured in this second piece.

I hope this helps in some small way.

Best wishes,
LeeC

InstituteMan
October 5th, 2014, 05:39 PM
Alas, I life won't spare me a full critique right now, but I am glad this resurfaced so that I can note one thing: I really like Scarlet. She's interesting and alluring. I want to see what happens next with her. She sounds a lot like a girl I would have fallen for back in the day.

I don't think there are any glaring flaws here to critique, mind you, but even if there were, having a character as darn interesting as that will cause a reader (me, at least) to gloss over a multitude of literary sins. Write on!

TKent
October 5th, 2014, 05:48 PM
Hey MM, so this is my first novel, and I'm learning everything at once, how to write, how to plot, how to build suspense, how to choose the right scenes to tell the story I want and have the story rise and fall in a way that satisfies a reader such as myself. All I can say is, it is FREAKING HARD!! I've at various times posted stuff here from this same story, and the feedback has been amazing because I need it all. I hadn't even looked at this in ages and in reading it again, realize I've rewritten this scene already and Payton Harrington isn't even in the story anymore LOL!! But I'm glad you are liking it, and I really do hope to keep plugging away until I have a good story, and a tight plot, and then I can go back through and try to take my mediocre writing to the next level by deepening the setting, characters, tightening the dialog, etc. It's hard but soooo much fun.


Wow, TK. I'm glad I stumbled into this. I really liked the detail and he emotions that were going through Scarlet. It makes me curious if there is going to be some sort of a triangle involving her, Jackson, and Blake. Oh the drama :lol:

Anyway it was a very good read. I think you had another chapter in here too that I read now that I remember. I recall that was also very well written. Anyway keep doing what you do (or something like that) :lol:

Don't you love it when someone revives your thread (i.e Cran)

- - - Updated - - -

Lord, this has changed so much I'm going to repost it. LOL.

TKent
October 5th, 2014, 06:15 PM
Well, given that you guys are all so kind to read my twenty-something romance, I updated with the latest in a constant series of revisions in case anyone else stumbles this way. Fortunate to be headed out to play tennis on this glorious day but will stop back by and continue reading LeeC & IM. THANKS!

TKent
October 5th, 2014, 10:47 PM
Hey LeeC, honestly, the 1st scene after the short piece where Scarlet introduces herself, feels very slow to me too. I have a feeling that before I'm done, I will have reordered that piece. I think I need a more impactful first scene in order to keep an audience. My WATTPAD numbers support this, (I can tell how many people have read each part. I appreciated your first feedback and appreciate this as well. I have a feeling that this is going to motivate me to figure that out! So THANKS! :) And I enjoyed your description of the evolution of your interactions :) I'm not a spring chicken myself (52) so as fluffy as a twentysomething light romance may be, I still have to research what this age group might do, say, etc. (Honestly though, my research scares the SH*#& out of me, thank god my daughter is 28 and about to become engaged. The world is a crazy place for a youngster these days.)



I've read both your first scene and this piece more than once on going back through the board, and didn't see how I might constructively comment. For whatever it's worth, beyond the preface of the first piece which caught my attention (liked), the remainder of the first piece reminded me of a modern version of that hapless [I even think in a Dickensian manner] phase of life I tend to gloss over. This second piece though (for reasons I'm at a loss to articulate), had an intimate feel in my perception of the protagonist. Not being able to delineate the writing aspects that affected my perception, I didn't comment. Another thing that dissuaded my commenting on such, was that I didn't want to come across as one of these taught formula writers that believe you have to grab the reader forcibly from the git-go (which likely has something to do with decreasing attention span and increasing immediate gratification). Generally I don't give up on a book till I've given it a fair chance, though sometimes I wish I had :wink:

Ashii McD
December 19th, 2014, 03:04 PM
New Adult is the genre I read the most. I've read a lot of good and a lot of bad and what I have seen of his so far is good, really good. I was gripped right away and at no point did I get bored or loss focus. I really want to know what happens next. It was well written and well paced. I think I noticed a word missing about halfway through and that's it.

The only thing I would say, and it's purely my personal opinion and probably not a big deal to others, is that I didn't like Jackson and Erica dancing together and Scarlet being happy about it. Especially if they were bumping and grinding. I say this because it then led me to think that Scarlet really wasn't interested in him as more than a friend. If it's Blake she's going to end up with then that's fine but if Jackson's her man than I would possibly revise her feelings on this.

Otherwise, I just plain loved it.

fpak
December 19th, 2014, 03:28 PM
This is a pretty good start to a novel. We have a likable protagonist, lots of baggage, a decent side character and an immediate conflict. Its almost textbook. And I mean that in a good way. You obviously know what you're doing.

One criticism I did have is with Blake. I know he is central to the immediate conflict and he is definitely a well written asshole :P, but I couldn't help but feel that the entire situation is a bit cliche. I know he is a bad boy character and the girl is supposed to fawn over him but I felt the narrator went way past fawning to being practically mesmerized by him.

I'll note here that feeling attracted to Blake despite what he did to her, seems very much in line with whatever you've shown us of the narrator so far. And on the whole the way she reacted when she met him (surprise, self loathing, fear and desire) felt beleivable. You're going in the right direction it's just a matter of toning it down a bit. I'm not suggesting any overhaul, just a slight change in the tone of the lines, so that the narrator doesn't react like a deer in front of headlights when she sees Blake.

Oh and lastly I've only read 2,800 words but I'm already fond of Scarlet and hope that she doesn't get screwed over. That's pretty neat on your part as a writer. Though it might be a personal thing, Scarlet just reminds me of a few girls I know. :p

TKent
December 19th, 2014, 04:34 PM
Hey fpak, Thanks so much for reading!

Boy you are right on target with your critique about Blake. This was rewritten since this was posted, so I've posted the latest version. I did my best to work on those exact issues you called out. It was so melodramatic and over the top cliche. It probably still is but hopefully the last rewrite is headed in the right direction.

This is not actually where the story starts, but very close to the beginning. I also included a link to the synopsis as well.

fpak
December 19th, 2014, 06:18 PM
Hey fpak, Thanks so much for reading!

Boy you are right on target with your critique about Blake. This was rewritten since this was posted, so I've posted the latest version. I did my best to work on those exact issues you called out. It was so melodramatic and over the top cliche. It probably still is but hopefully the last rewrite is headed in the right direction.

This is not actually where the story starts, but very close to the beginning. I also included a link to the synopsis as well.

Ok, so I read the rewrite went through the preface and the synopsis.

The rewrite is way better. Not only is the interaction with Blake better written, on the whole Scarlet seems more mature in this. And as a result, I am more inclined to respect her feelings regarding her life. Now when she expresses her angst, it feels like a young woman struggling with life, and not just the whining of a teen.

I don't read much YA or NA. Rainbow Rowell is one of the few writers of that genre that Ive read. Ive never read a John Green book. Or at least, never finished one. I've frequented Wattpad a bit and skimmed some of the stuff there and I've mostly found it substandard. To put it lightly. And so, I was a bit apprehensive when I first started reading what you've posted here. It is the same genre after all.

But I have to say that this seems very good. I very much like everything I've read so far and I feel like there are real emotional stakes here; the story just feels more real.

With that being said I have a couple of issues.

One issue is with Scarlet's personality. I really like her as she is. She seems vulnerable but strong at the same time. But you need to be careful not to give her too much of a curmudgeonly vibe, otherwise she just ends up whining too much and readers wont appreciate that. You haven't let that happen yet. But with a character like this I think it would be very easy to let her slip into that funk one too many times.

The other issue is a larger one with the plot. I like the synopsis up to the point where Jackson and Scarlet rekindle their friendship after the parking lot incident.

After that, when she takes up that job in Brooklyn, the plot starts to lose momentum. It starts to read more as an epilogue than as the last act of a novel.

Also, you have the entire plot up to that point set in Atlanta and then suddenly for the last act you're moving the action to Brooklyn, this might be jarring for the reader unless there is some sort of Macguffin thats driving trhe protagonist while they are there. Instead Scarlet doesn't seem to know anybody in Brooklyn as she is there for the first time. So its just going to be her with very few people to interact with, unless you introduce a few new characters and it is not advisable to start introducing fresh characters this late in the narrative.

And finally, the twist. I mentioned earlier that the story feels more real but here is the exception to that case: Baxter's memoir conveniently landing on her lap and him even more conveniently being unmarried. How is it that in the age of internet, nobody seems to know that Baxter isn't married anymore, misleading wedding ring or not?

In the story, Scarlet has an issue with redemption for her characters. You have a bit of an issue with giving Scarlet a form of redemption too. But in your case it's not about the protagonist not earning her redemption. I fully feel that by the end of the story Scarlet has changed and is wiser and more hopeful. I just have an issue with the logistics of the redemption, the plot mechanics whereby she comes to a good place. In other words you've convinced the reader that Scarlet is capable of a better life, you just need to rework the narrative so that Scarlet attains that life in a believable manner. As it is, I feel the last few scenes are a bit contrived.

oh and a small nitpick: You dont need to say that she's been writing stories on "a website called Wattpad." Im sure all your readers will know about Wattpad. Its almost like saying I wrote this post on a machine called a laptop.


Other than everything I've listed above, I really liked what I've read so far and see serious potential in this WIP. I hope everything else I read from it is going to be good too.

TKent
December 19th, 2014, 08:37 PM
fpak, first thank you, thank you, thank for taking the time to do such an in depth analysis. This is my first attempt at writing anything basically, so although I have tried to do things in a general 3 act structure, I have no doubt that things will and won't work when all is said and done, and know I'll be doing some major rewriting. But that said, it is SO sweet to get feedback early enough in the process that I can impact stuff I'm writing now.

A few comments:

- Completely understood about Scarlet's personality I keep over and underwriting that aspect of her personality, so I'll be sure to add to my revision list to watch out for this!


One issue is with Scarlet's personality. I really like her as she is. She seems vulnerable but strong at the same time. But you need to be careful not to give her too much of a curmudgeonly vibe, otherwise she just ends up whining too much and readers wont appreciate that. You haven't let that happen yet. But with a character like this I think it would be very easy to let her slip into that funk one too many times.

- You raise a great point about moving the location. I will think about that one. There isn't a specific reason she needs to go there as I did some research and there are literary agents in Atlanta, but my backstory has Baxter coming from another state where he went by his first name, (part of the reason no one knows he's married), but I'll give this some serious thought! I have had my own reservations about the plot arc once we hit the end of school, if felt like that was the place for the climax, yet I have a dip before she actually finds out Baxter isn't married. So this really helps to get your impressions on this area of the plot. I definitely will noodle on this.

- Great point about Wattpad! I had reservations about that as well.

This is helpful as well. Everything I've written so far has been totally not believable. So I've been back to the drawing board on it every inch of the way. LOL. So thanks for the feedback.


In other words you've convinced the reader that Scarlet is capable of a better life, you just need to rework the narrative so that Scarlet attains that life in a believable manner. As it is, I feel the last few scenes are a bit contrived.

So again, thanks so much for the feedback!