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meghanwithanH
July 28th, 2018, 05:52 PM
Hey all! This is the first time I'm letting anyone read my work and I'm a little nervous. It's a work in progress and definitely needs to be fleshed out but I thought I'd see what you guys think and then decide if I should even continue. I do have an idea of where I want it to go but not sure if I should disclose that yet? And I wasn't sure about the category so I'm posting on the main board.

***

I’m just going to tell you this up front: I’m fat.

And this isn’t one of those things where I just say I’m fat in the hopes that you’ll tell me I’m not. Like my co-worker who wears a size 00. She is so small, it’s like they created size 00 just for her. And she says to me, “You are not fat, Daisy.” As she stuffs two cookies in her mouth at a time and doesn’t gain an ounce.

Annabelle. Even her name makes her sound small. Next to her, I feel like King Kong. Godzilla. A sumo wrestler, at the very least.

I look at Annabelle every day and wonder, do all of her organs really fit in there?

Today, Annabelle is wearing a sundress, showing off her perfectly shaped arms and legs. Her straight blonde hair hangs down her back. She leans back in her chair as Jason from Sales approaches her desk. One slender leg crosses over the other and Jason’s eyes flick down toward them, a fraction of a second. He says something that makes Annabelle laugh and I catch a flash of her straight white teeth.

I glace at the clock on my computer monitor: 11:58am. Jason’s pathetic need to hit on Annabelle every single day is not going to make me late for lunch. I try to catch her eye across the room but she’s looking at Jason. I grab my bag and head toward her desk.

“Sorry, she’s gotta go,” I say and grab Annabelle’s wallet from the corner of her desk. Annabelle stands and pushes her chair under.

“Sorry, Daisy,” Jason says, backing away with his hands up. “Wouldn’t want to make you late for lunch.”

See? Jason knows I’m fat.



“What do you see in Jason, anyway?” I ask. We’re at a table at Deena’s, our favorite lunch spot.

“He’s not so bad.”

“He’s not so bad to you.” I move the salad around the plate with my fork. I’ve already eaten the good stuff from the top: buffalo chicken, French fries, cheese and hard-boiled eggs. No amount of homemade ranch dressing can persuade me to eat the lettuce.

Annabelle uses her cloth napkin to wipe her mouth and then folds it into quarters. “You’re not all that nice to him either.”

It’s true but I won’t admit it to Annabelle. I assume people won’t like me, so I’m mean to them before they can be mean to me.

“He doesn’t like me because I’m fat,” I deflect. I trace the checkered pattern on the tablecloth with my finger.

“Daisy, you are not fat.”

I never know how to respond to that because I am so obviously fat.



I invite Annabelle to hang out at my place on Friday night. We’ll watch movies and have some combination of bread, cheese, chocolate and wine. Or all of the above. She says it sounds like fun but she has a date on Friday night. I wonder what that’s like.

It’s too late to make plans with anyone else, so I decide to make a night of it. I get a loaf of crusty Italian bread and a cake from the bakery, and some expensive cheese at the store.

This is perfect, I think. This is the just the way I like it, anyway: me in my comfy pants with some food, my dogs, and Netflix.

I slice the bread and the cheese and cut myself a thick slice of chocolate cake. I need two drinks, one to go with the bread and cheese and a tall glass of cold milk to go with the cake. I try to balance it all on my arms but there’s just too much. I’m going to need a tray.

Tonight’s feature is Ugly Betty. I never finished watching it when it aired so I’ve been bingeing it for the last couple of weeks. Marc and Amanda crack me up. The one thing I don’t get, though, is why they call Betty fat all the time. She’s not even close to being fat. I wonder how America Ferrera felt about that.

“It’s time for Ugly Betty!!” I tell the dogs, pressing play. Henry sits next to me on the couch, front feet practically in my lap. Franky is at my feet and breaths her hot breathe on me. They may be more excited about the food than I am.

My tray is empty by the second commercial break. I lick the last of the chocolate frosting from my fingers. Tastes like more.

After a couple of episodes, I get bored and pull my tablet toward me. Google pops up on the browser and type “BBW” into the search bar. The results are thousands of porn videos featuring fat girls. Yikes.

I try again and type “beautiful at any size” into the search bar. This is more like it. Countless results on the fat acceptance movement pop up, along with some articles telling me I should love myself no matter my size. There are several testimonials by women who claim they do just that. Some of these women are twice my size. Yet they love themselves? Unlikely.

One woman simply says it doesn’t matter if she’s big or small; she’s confident either way.



Annabelle and I are back at Deena’s the following week. I pick at my lettuce, wishing I had the nerve to order something else when I’m with her. And it’s stupid because she must know I’m stuffing my face at home since I’m not doing it at lunch.

The server drops off our check and winks at Annabelle. He’s tall and his eyes are the color of the sky. We call him Blue Eyes.

“I wrote my number on the back of the check,” he says and winks at Annabelle. “Call me.”

Annabelle giggles and once he’s gone, she looks at me like, can you believe this guy?!

I mirror her look back at her but I’m thinking, I wish things like that happened to me.

“Stuff like that never happens to me,” I say, hoping I sound more fascinated than depressed.

Annabelle pulls out her phone and puts Blue Eyes’ number in her contacts, still smiling. Then she sits back in her seat and lets out a breath, deciding.

“Listen. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the way you look. You know I don’t think there is. But looks don’t matter. All you need is confidence. And that’s more important that things like this.” She gestures at the check with Blue Eyes’ number on it.

There’s that confidence word again.

“But where do I find this confidence that everyone’s talking about?”

Before Annabelle can answer, Jason is sliding into the booth next to her.

“I thought that was you!” he says. He hits her arm playfully. “Hey, I have tickets for the game this weekend. Wanna go?”

I roll my eyes but they don’t notice. I’m not even here.

“I don’t think so. I’ve told you I don’t date co-workers.”

“Well, at least let me pick me pick up your check.” He pulls his wallet out and flips it open. I notice it has the Transformers logo stamped on the front. Douchebag.

“We’ve already paid,” Annabelle says. We haven’t, but I know she doesn’t want to take his money. “But thank you. We’re going to stop in the ladies’ but we’ll see you back at the office.”

“No problem. See ya there.” Jason hops out of his seat and heads for the front door.

“He certainly is persistent,” Annabelle says. She sounds a little irritated.

She slides out of the booth and waits for me. It always takes me a few extra seconds to get up. While sliding across the seat, I notice that Jason left his wallet on the table. I glance up at Annabelle and while her back is to me, I slip the wallet into my bag.

QuixoteDelMar
July 28th, 2018, 07:50 PM
I like this - It's easy to read and very clear. I went back through and checked for akward passages, and there's nothing I'd call out specifically, but there are a couple of sentences and paragraphs that could use some reworking. Vague, I know, but since they aren't grammatical errors I won't pull them out special.

I do think the segment of Daisy at home drags a little - I think the blow-by-blow could be tightened up a llbit, made a little less descriptive, maybe. You're telling a little, rather than showing.

Sounds like Daisy has some real image issues. Makes me wonder if she's really as fat as she says she is.

All in all, I like your voice and the tone of the story. I'd like to read wherever you decide to go with it, too.

Underd0g
July 28th, 2018, 10:12 PM
I like Annabel's relationship toward Daisy. It seems to be a combination of patronizing, acceptance and a hint of possible affection. I think it was well done.
If I'm wrong be sure to correct me.

SueC
July 28th, 2018, 10:44 PM
I liked this Meghan. I think we all have these things about ourselves that we want to change. I like the relationship between Annabelle and Daisy. Even though there are things about Annabelle that Daisy could be envious of, she isn't and it looks like a real friendship. I think you did a good job - keep going. :)

Introvertrme
July 29th, 2018, 06:02 AM
Well done for your first post! I like the way you dialogue it feels very natural and realistic, its a great start I'd like to see where it goes after this its a very strong foundation and can relate to a lot of this as I'm sure will many others.

I like the contrast between both characters, you've definitely set the stage for more to come and it gives you many avenues you can go down plot wise.

Try to make this your own now, don't be afraid of breaking away from norms and inject some of your individuality into this. Great to see keep it up !

Mar xx

meghanwithanH
July 29th, 2018, 02:58 PM
Wow, thank you all for the feedback! I'm surprised it's so positive :)

QuixoteDelMar, I'm not crazy about that passage either. I don't think the tone is consistent there and I may eliminate it altogether, or at least rework it. I wanted to show that Daisy's life is somewhat solitary. Can you tell me more about showing vs. telling?

I want Daisy to be unlikeable and if that isn't coming across, I have some more work to do!

Thank again!

TuesdayEve
July 29th, 2018, 03:25 PM
I like Daisey because she’s real. She thinks and says
things most of us feel at one time, men and woman.
She’s a little like Ugly Betty, common sense, confused
and curious, compassionate, smart and longing
to connect to that special one.

QuixoteDelMar
July 31st, 2018, 10:48 PM
Sorry, I meant to get back to you a lot sooner - I'm easily distracted and ooooh shiny!

Ahem. I'm going to preface this by saying that I generally use stream-of-consciousness in first person, or omniscient third person perspective, which means that in general, I'm either really light on descriptive action, or really heavy. SO your mileage may vary on this advice. As a teacher, I'm pretty balls, so instead of trying to explain it, I'll just show you. Take you paragraph here:


I slice the bread and the cheese and cut myself a thick slice of chocolate cake. I need two drinks, one to go with the bread and cheese and a tall glass of cold milk to go with the cake. I try to balance it all on my arms but there’s just too much. I’m going to need a tray.

You're walking us through everything she did, step by step. That's functional, but not great - it slows things down, and getting a plate of food isn't a complicated procedure. Your readers already know how it's done without having the entire process demonstrated for them. I would have done something more like this:


I slice the food and the cake. I also get two drinks - one for the meal, and a tall glass of milk for dessert. I can't carry all of it, so I have to use a tray.

Now, my example isn't perfect either, but when you're going over mundane activities, brevity is easier on the reader. Give them the general idea of what's happening, but don't over-explain it. The important thing is to give them enough detail that they can picture the scene, but not so much that you're slowing down the flow of the story.

liminal_luke
August 1st, 2018, 12:11 AM
Daisy`s supposed to be unlikeable? I didn`t get that at all. In fact, I kind of love her. Maybe I am Daisy, albeit a male version. Her thoughts and feelings seem so human, so relatable. She really feels like a real person, as do your other characters. Great story!

meghanwithanH
August 1st, 2018, 03:14 PM
QuixoteDelMar, is fantastic and makes so much sense. Thank you for taking the time to explain!

meghanwithanH
August 1st, 2018, 03:17 PM
Liminal_luke, yes, she doesn’t like herself and that makes it hard for other people to like her. She’s jealous and mean. But I think it’s okay if that doesn’t come across just yet. If I continue, Daisy will go off the deep end and may become unlikeable then. If I can pull it off :) Thanks for reading and for the kind words!

PaleWriter
August 29th, 2018, 02:38 AM
Greetings meghanwithanH !!!
Am new here meself. This is gonna be my first critique in this forum. I beg your forgiveness aforehand.

Mostly, your story reads well and smooth, natural even. Also, good use of dialogue. This isn't your first rodeo!

Daisy is believable.
You have gone to great lengths demonstrating how much she dislikes herself.
Oddly enough, this makes her likeable as well.
Too likeable, in your stated opinion.
Daisy needs some glaring, unlikable flaws.
Think about it.

For now, let's talk about a possible point of factual difficulty: Is Daisy going to watch "Ugly Betty" on Netflix... or did I get that wrong? Netflix does not have commercials.


My tray is empty by the second commercial break...

Iffin' I might put forth another constructive criticism? This suggestion pertains to flow and tempo.
Split some paragraphs so the info is easily digested.
More palpable.

EDITED suggestion: I try again and type “beautiful at any size” into the search bar. This is more like it. Countless results on the fat acceptance movement pop up, along with some articles telling me I should love myself no matter my size.

There are several testimonials by women who claim they do just that. Some of these women are twice my size. Yet they love themselves? Unlikely.

Using the "Rule of 3" (3 sentences per paragraph) will help pick up the pace and keep the reader from getting bogged down.
Your use of short/tight sentences grabs the Reader driving the story forward.

Alas, there are a couple technical difficulties:
A spell check won't catch some things -
"me pick" is repeated in this sentence...


Well, at least let me pick me pick up your check.

Perhaps your closing will have more impact if the last sentence is split replacing the comma with a period? I think my high school teacher would call this a 'run-on' sentence?


EDITED suggestion: I glance up at Annabelle and while her back is to me. I slip the wallet into my bag.

Great 'lead on' ending... we know more will happen in Daisy's life.

What is she gonna do with that wallet? Does Daisy really have a crush on Jason? Or, does she intend to make Jason's life just as miserable as her own?

You stated a desire to make Daisy an unfavorable character. Negative actions will remake Daisy into an unlikable character. Daisy MUST show her raw, resentful side. Does she have it in her?

All in all, it's a good read. Needs a little tempo adjustment keeping the 'Rule of 3' in mind. And, don't completely trust spell checkers.

Helpful critique I hope?

Thanx for sharing this with us. Looking forward to more of your work.

NOTE TO ALL: My deepest apologies for any spelling, grammar or forum rules inadvertently violated by this new member in my firstest (and hopefully, not last) critique.

meghanwithanH
August 29th, 2018, 11:47 AM
Thanks for the critique! It was very helpful, particularly with the typos I hadn’t noticed and that no one else has mentioned!

Ugly Betty is on the ABC app, which does have commercials :) However, I’ll be reworking that section or maybe even eliminating it.

I haven’t looked at this story in weeks but you’ve given me the motivation to get back into it. Thanks again!

PaleWriter
August 29th, 2018, 09:17 PM
A thousand pardons.
Never heard of "Ugly Betty" before your post.
I mistakenly projected Daisy's reflections...


This is perfect, I think. This is the just the way I like it, anyway: me in my comfy pants with some food, my dogs, and Netflix.

The Reader's lack of knowledge about "Ugly Betty" demonstrates the need for clarification.

Please don't drop the section.
Keep fleshing Daisy out with the odds and ends of her life.
You're on a good track with this piece.