Show Me the Voice Blogfest

Everyone knows I love a blogfest, especially when there’s swag! Swag, in this case, is a critique, and who wouldn’t benefit from a pair of fresh eyes clapped to his or her manuscript? Certainly not I.

So with no further blabbering, here’s my entry for the Show Me The Voice Blogfest hosted by the lovely Brenda Drake. It’s from my second completed novel, Office Politics. It’s 8 words over the 250 word limit, but it was the end of a paragraph! *blushes*

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Title: Office Politics

Genre: Women’s Fiction (or General Fiction)

 

FRESH MEAT

She walks in like a deer approaching a watering hole favored by its top ten natural predators: eyes wide and fearful, face pale, a fine tremor racing through hands clasping a leather notebook portfolio to her chest. Her conservative plaid Pendleton skirt swishes around her kneecaps in a frenzy of pleats, and the coordinating jacket over a muted maroon blouse must make the office temperature seem like a suburb of hell.

“Fresh meat,” I say in a low voice, tossing a paper clip over the low cubicle wall at my neighbor Stella. She picks it up and bounces it off the head of our coworker Gretchen, who is my best friend. Gretchen looks up and catches Stella’s slight nod toward the New Girl passing behind her cubicle. She rolls her eyes. No one wears wool in this office, even Pendleton wool, and no one wears a suit jacket except the administrators. Or perhaps I should say Administrators, for that’s how they see themselves, with a capital A—capital A for Assholes, Stella always quips.

“I give it two hours before she finds a way to shed the wool shell,” Gretchen wagers.

“One,” I say.

“Fifteen minutes. What’s the wager, Frannie?” Stella asks, scrutinizing the New Girl closely. She sees what Gretchen and I miss: the fine sheen of sweat stippling her more-than-likely freshly-waxed upper lip.

“Starbucks Frappuccino,” I suggest. I love Frappuccinos and would find a way to exist on a diet made up solely of said beverage if I could. That and Arby’s French dip sandwiches.

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Let the critiques begin. 🙂

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22 thoughts on “Show Me the Voice Blogfest

  1. A. Grey says:

    Okay, so I LOVE the imagery here! Even better, I’ve never worked in an office, much less a cubicle (farm girl all the way) and you really made me squirm with the sensations of what it must be like, without making it out to be the second level of hell or anything.

    Only critique would be the first line. What you’re saying is spot-on, but how you’re saying it is a little clunky and confusing.

    ‘She walks in like a deer approaching’ instantly gave me a mental picture of this little venison steak-in-a-skirt but the ‘watering hole’ made me think of Africa, since in the states we just say lake or pond, and then the ‘favored by the top ten predators’ was a little much, especially with the ensuing description of features, which I really liked.

    If you could trim it down, maybe even leave out the water bit and just make it about a deer venturing out of cover:

    She walks in like a deer being forced to move around in broad daylight: eyes wide and fearful, face pale, a fine tremor racing through hands clasping a leather notebook portfolio to her chest.

    I’d keep reading without hesitation… I even laid a little private bet on how long it took her to shed the wool shell… 🙂

    • Sharon says:

      Thank you VERY much! I will take a look at that first sentence and see how I can apply some tweakage. 😉 I am glad to hear you’d read on with no hesitation. This was a super-fun book to write.

  2. vickisourdry says:

    You nailed the feeling of the newbie walking into a “new job”. And you nailed what the “cubicle fillers” would feel like, too. I hated working in big offices like this.

    The first sentence does need to be tweaked (like the first commenter said). I had the same feeling about it. I understood what you were trying to say, but I had to read it twice and think about it, rather than it carrying me into the story.

    Good luck in the contest!

  3. Roland D. Yeomans says:

    Your first line nailed the predatory atmosphere that can often prevail in many cubicle environments. And Africa is sometimes kinder in many ways than those. At least there when the animals eat their own, it is for survival … not for cruel pleasure.

    I might start another paragraph after the narrator bounces the paper clip off of poor Stella’s head.

    Thick paragraphs are hard on the reader’s eyes, tending to fuzz over their attention.

    As I read, I got the impression that I was going to enjoy this read, and it was going to be fun, witty ride, Roland

  4. J.C. Martin says:

    The voice here is sassy, confident, and a bit bitchy…wow, you captured office politics perfectly! Apart form the first line which someone has already commented on, I can’t see anything else I’d change.

  5. Erica M Chapman says:

    I love your voice and your descriptions are detailed. I’ll admit the first line confused me a little… I’m wondering if you put in a comma or make it two sentences it may be easier to understand?

    I love the ease within the characters! Great job ;o)

  6. Taryn says:

    K , so, to critique, I opened the first twelve links in my browsers and started skimming. Yours had so much voice I stopped skimming and had to comment NOW rather than later. I loved this. I would so read on. For voice, you win. But the writing could use a little smoothing–tightening and trimming, like others have said. I do think you could take “temperature” out of the last sentence in the first paragraph.

    But I love the voice!

  7. Loralie says:

    I think your voice is very clear here. And appropriate for the genre. So far, it’s definitely women’s fiction, and I think you’ve nailed what you wanted to here. Great job ^_^

  8. ramblingsfromtheleft says:

    You’re in first person and you can’t know she has a fine tremor racing through her hands … notebook and portfolio are redundant …

    Lose the deer and maybe you can begin … Eyes wide and fearful, face pale, her hands clasped a leather portfolio to her chest. The plaid Pendleton skirt swished around her kneecaps in a frenzy of pleats, and the coordinating jacket over a maroon blouse must must have made the office temperature seem like a suburb of hell.

    Try to avoid a great deal of “ing’s” … If this is first person, did you want to do, first person-present tense. It is easier to control language with first person, past tense.

    Okay, enough … I love everything after the first paragraph so you might want to re-work the first paragrapha. Thanks 🙂

  9. Lori M. Lee says:

    I didn’t realize this was first person until the second paragraph. I thought ‘she’ was the MC. Aside from this, which I think you need to make clear, I thought it was great and the voice pretty clear.

  10. Trisha says:

    The voice in this is really awesome! Love it, and want to read on for sure. I just have a suggestion about the first para – the sentences are quite long. i.e., the first part of the first sentence:

    “She walks in like a deer approaching a watering hole favored by its top ten natural predators:”

    That could be a sentence on its own, and yet I do like the stuff you continue with. But all together it seems a bit wordy.

    Other than that, got no crits 🙂

  11. Carol J. Garvin says:

    You established a great voice right from the start. I love the bitchy office atmosphere and the great dialogue. I thought the description was a little overdone in places; for instance, I didn’t need the watering hole bit, or “over a muted maroon blouse.” But it definitely would make me want to read on to find out why the new girl’s there and what’s going to happen to her. Well done!

  12. Denise Stripes says:

    I like the imagery of the deer (it fits with “fresh meat”), but agree that the watering hole makes it clunky. I hadn’t thought about the fine tremor before, given the narrator, but that makes sense. I wonder, however, if that could be changed to something the narrator might notice, rather than just leaving it out; perhaps a description of how she grips the portfolio? You don’t want to diminish the heightened sense of awareness/fear. Hope my ramblings help. I’m looking forward to my autographed copy!

  13. Bekah K says:

    I do like your voice but I agree there is a little too much description in certain parts for the first page. I think you can describe New GIrl outfit without there being too much. I have no idea what Pendelton wool is, so I skipped that line. It is an interesting start with the cubicle and bets LOL

  14. Kalen O'Donnell says:

    So this isn’t my usual type of read, but I would have read on anyways. It drew me in, yes with a few stumbles that others have already mentioned, but the dialogue got me. I enjoyed it, good job.

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