Wednesday, February 25, 2009

38 Drop the Needle: Chapter Endings

TITLE: To Know Who You Are
GENRE: Time-Travel Romance

Kyra is a college student, still living at home, and with a mother who's determined to run Kyra's life for her, and willing to do almost anything to keep Kyra under her thumb. Kyra has defied her mother's 'orders' for the first time in years, and is just now coming home from a week staying with a friend (and falling in love with her best-friend's brother, which is where the time-travel threads begin). He's just dropped her off at home, and her mother has just informed her that she's redecorating Kyra's bedroom for her graduation present. Kyra will find her things in the guest room...well, those things worth keeping.


Worth keeping?

Horror swept over Kyra as her mother walked away. She flew up the stairs as images dashed before her mind's eye.

She thought of the coverlet her grandmother had hand-quilted and the furniture that her grandfather had lovingly crafted. The framed postcards that her aunt sent from all over the world. The figurines that her father had given her each birthday from twelve to twenty-one.

She reached the upstairs hall and stepped to the nearest door. Crimson curtains and bedding screamed their greeting, while the ugly headboard and nightstands taunted her. No time-worn coverlet softened the bed. No portraits of her grandparents hung on the walls, watching her from their childhood.

A violin case lay on the dresser, and she flipped it open. Yes, this was her where was her old violin? The Ruggieri she'd loved for nine years?

She stepped to the closet and flipped the lights on. She dug through hangers filled with all of the clothes her mother preferred she wear, but no second violin case greeted her.

She flipped more frantically. The dress she'd worn as her aunt's flower girl wasn't there, either. In fact, none of her favorite clothes were there.

She left and turned down the hallway toward the room that had always been her sanctuary. Her footsteps whispered on the carpets as though they, too, were afraid of what they'd find.

The door swung open against her touch, she reached for the light switch, and she froze.

Everything was gone.


  1. I like this. The controlling mother taking from her the belonging, which are part of her identity, as punishment.
    I would read more, especially what happened before this passage

  2. In this small snipet you've managed to make this poor girl horribly sympathetic. I feel so bad for her! I'd read on to find out what happens next, hoping that that she manages to recover her childhood treasures at some point.

  3. Wow... this is just powerful. The helplessness screams from the page. Well done!

    Also, I was tearing through the words to get to the end, which is a testament to your talent. I hate the mother in 250 words, and feel longing and sympathy for the MC. So great!

  4. I like the passage. She's obviously been violated by her mother. My only suggestion is to watch the use of "that" particularly in the paragraph, "She thought of the coverlet... If you take them out it reads stronger.

  5. (Warning: This isn't a genre I would normally read, so my comments should be weighed accordingly.)

    The writing is certainly descriptive, and there is never a doubt as to the state of mind of the character. However, there are aspects of the writing that needs work. I'm not a fan of many of the sentence fragments in here, starting with the second paragraph. Make complete sentences out of these, it will tighten up the writing.

    You may want to reconsider using the word "Strad", unless there is a good reason in doing so.

    The assignment is chapter endings, and the idea is to give the reader something to look forward to in the next chapter, a reason to want to read more. Your current ending has a sense of emptiness, no hint at what might happen next. Unless there is a reason not to do so, you might want to end the chapter before she visits her old bedroom.

    You could actually end it here:

    "She left and turned down the hallway toward the room that had always been her sanctuary. Her footsteps whispered on the carpets as though they, too, were afraid of what they'd find."

  6. Excellent pacing. You've done well to present emotion and detail without overload--great style and craft. I connected with the character and want to continue reading.

  7. I really like the way you move the action forward. Very descriptive writing; nice mixture of sentences. I can get inside the character's mind -- well done!

  8. Lots of tension. Watch terms and phrases like "footsteps whispered on the carpet", "mind's eye," "bedding screamed." I'd read more.

  9. I am in the hate the mother club too! Yikes.

    The writing obviously flowed for me, because I raced through to find out what was going to happen.

    I agree with the suggestion of ending it at as though they, too, were afraid of what they'd find.

  10. Very quickly you set the stage-I hate mom and feel connected to Kyra already. What was missing for me was a little bit more of the time-travel element to add the the intrigue. "Everything was gone." I wanted a bit more of a cliff hanger-perhaps if I read all of it it would be illuminated better ;o). I really loved it and would love to read more!

  11. Good, sympathetic main character. You not only describe her plight, you show it, and we feel her pain. Her panic is almost palpable as she rushes upstairs and explores her room. I think the fragments are fine in this situation since they enhance the frenzy, but don't use them too often. I always have this problem too. I definitely overuse fragments. The screaming bedding kind of threw me off because it's not the kind of description you'd usually associate with bedding, so be careful not to try too hard to be wildly original. Otherwise, I think the language is very accessible.

    I'm interested in seeing how this becomes a time-travel romance. As far as chapter endings go, this is a great cliffhanger. Good work!

  12. Oh man, I really, really feel for Kyra. I felt her fear, her worry, and her sense of violation. I'm definitely not liking her mom.

    I actually kind of like the screaming bedding. It brings a sense of loud colours and a shock.

    I'm curious why Kyra has a Stradivarius, though, and why she's had a Ruggieri for nine years. Those are old and expensive violins, so unless her family's wealthy or wishes to support her career as a professional violinist, I doubt she'd have either violin. I'm also a little concerned that the mother would just get rid of a Ruggieri violin along with everything else. Has she sold it? Otherwise it sort of feels like she doesn't understand the monetary value of the instrument.

    That last sentence negated the tension I got as Kyra walked down the hall. I'd assumed that everything was gone. If you end the chapter at Kyra freezing, I'd want to know why.

    I'm very curious about how this is a time travel romance, and about how the mother subplot works within the story. It sounds like it'll be a very interesting read.

  13. Wow! Love this! My nose was glue to the page... well computer screen. I feel her emotions! Great job! if the whole book like this I would pull an all nighter!


  14. Wow...psycho mother from hell? Will there be any boiled bunnies? I would read on! :-)

  15. I liked this, made me really feel bad for her. It also made me wonder what kind of mother she has.

  16. Very, very nice. Great imagery. I really had to work to come up with something to nit pick.

    Since you already use italics to signify internal dialogue, reusing them for emphasis might lead to italics-overload. Instead of "none of her favorite clothes were there" with the italics, maybe take out the italics and say "she didn't see even one of her favorite outfits". Or somesuch.

    I disagree with quettalinde -- I think you should leave in the "Everything was gone". I think the tension isn't in the walking down the hall, I think it's in the knowing of what she's going to do about it. Yeah, we already know that everything will be gone, so to (re-)discover that in the next chapter will be a letdown. My goal is instead to discover what the ramifications are.

  17. Also, to continue disagreeing, I say use "Strad" instead of expanding it. If she's played the instrument for that long, there's no way she'd ever refer to it by its full name.

    The full name would only pull me out of her train of thought, and it wouldn't add anything to my understanding if I didn't know what a Strad was.

  18. Wow! Fantastic!

    What a painful experience, right in character with a mother like that. Totally believable, and great details. The only thing that doesn’t quite fit is the “ugly headboard”. Everything else is so vivid, SHOW us and ugly headboard.

    Why does she have a Strad? Is she that good?

    So, is she going to have it out with her mom, pursue her stuff, or just marry the brother and live happily-ever-after?

  19. Oh, what comes next?

    This was great. I really liked the emotion you evoked in describing all the different things that Kyra knew and loved. At first I thought "Horror swept over Kyra..." was a little over the top, but not after I read through the rest of it.

    And the last line...defintely want to read the next chapter. Good job!

  20. Wow, I felt so bad for her. Her mom come across as so controlling, and almost treating her like a child (even though she is at least 21?) deciding what is worth keeping and what should be thrown out.

    I lived at home until I was 22. Thankfully my mom let me do my own spring cleaning.
    Good Job!

  21. I definitely like this. Maybe a bit heavy on the pronoun use, especially since there's two possible females "she/her" could refer to, but the writing is solid and you really make Kyra's feelings clear without beating us over the head with them,. Yup, I'd read on!

  22. Thanks, everyone! This is so encouraging! I'll have to consider the new place to end the chapter. Hmmm... I do like the old, though. I think the deciding factor will have to be where the next chapter starts up.

    re: fragments: No, I don't do that too often. I did it here to portray her racing thoughts, skipping through her head.

    The violins... yes, someone knows their violins! And yes, her father is an indulgent billionaire (at least as far as money and his only daughter is concerned) which the reader, of course knows long before this point.

    The time-travel element...well, this is a very different time-travel. It's not your "oops, I ended back in time and now have to deal with it" book. Most of the book takes place in the current time...and this scene is about 1/3 of the way through. I won't say more, because I've got my fingers crossed that this story will do well in the Amazon contest. :-)

    Well... thanks again everyone!

  23. This was great, but I would end it before 'Everything was gone.' That sentence took the tensiona away a little.

    I would still read on though.

  24. I absolutely loathe the mother, and I would read on.

    Your ending is excellent.

    This is really the only sentence I didn't like:

    She flew up the stairs as images dashed before her mind's eye.

    I think it's the "before her mind's eye" that feel stilted. Perhaps you could phrase this differently.

    Good job!

  25. Good writing...I like it. I would definitely turn the page.

  26. You know, Authoress... that's the one line I'm not sold on either! I think it's both the "images" which is too...picture-like...for beloved things, as well as the "mind's eye." I took it out and tried about six other possibilities, but scratched them all as being even worse. There was:

    ...precious belongings paraded through her memory. (But paraded is too slow and formal, and memory makes it sound like it's been a long time and she already knows they're gone.) she thought of the things she loved. (I just don't care for the rhythm of that. It doesn't 'fit.')

    I think that something like this would work best...if only I could fill in the blank:

    She flew up the stairs as ______ dashed through her mind. Things? Too generic. Items? Too clinical. Treasures? A little confusing. Thoughts of things she loved? That's close, but a bit long for the speed I'm trying to convey. ::sigh::

    Or perhaps I should do something like:

    Her heart began hammering as she flew up the stairs. What about the old coverlet her grandmother...?


    Thanks for the encouragement!