Wednesday, February 11, 2015

First Kiss #19

GENRE: Literary

Tanya and Cassia are drinking in Tanya's living room while discussing plans for an art studio.

I didn’t have the strength to fight through the misfiring synapses in order to argue with Cassia over it. “Where did all that come from? You’ve had as much to drink as I have.”

She ran her fingernails through my hair. “I can drink most American men under the table, plus drinking arouses my passions.”

A nervous fluttering shivered through me, but I didn’t back away from her hand. “Let’s get back to your ideas for the loft slash art gallery slash hippie commune.”

She reached over to the wine, which sat on the coffee table. “No, let’s get back to drinking. I wonder how you taste. I bet you would taste like strawberries soaked in Shiraz.”

I looked into her hungry eyes and started giggling. “Strawberries?”

“You have red hair. I bet it’s red down there, too.”

“You,” I pointed my finger at her, “are too much.”

She sucked on my finger and said, “Too much of what?”

The buzz in my head from the alcohol started moving to other parts of my body, enveloping me into a luxurious blanket of silk and velvet. Everything felt surreal. I wasn’t sure if I was in my apartment anymore or if I had slipped into a bizarre dream. I didn’t know if it was the wine or feeling vulnerable from my earlier visit to see Jenny’s baby or perhaps both. All I knew was that Cassia’s lips were pressed against mine, and automatically, my tongue found hers.


  1. I think you have a great start here, but there are a few areas I'd recommend taking a critical eye to.

    First, you categorize the genre as "literary," but the way you use language makes the passage read more like a contemporary romance (luxurious blanket of silk and velvet, especially). This isn't a bad thing, but thought I'd point it out.

    This line I think could use some tweaks: "She ran her fingernails through my hair. “I can drink most American men under the table, plus drinking arouses my passions.”"

    First -- "fingernails" makes me think Cassia has some crazy long fingernails and she's only touching Tanya with those fingernails. It's not a sexy image to me (however if Cassia has crazy long fingernails, then I got the right image).

    Second: Cassia says, "Drinking arouses my passions." This feels very tell-y. Can you make that line less literal or cut it and add another action that shows drinking arouses her passions?

    The "strawberries soaked in Shiraz" line doesn't work for me -- do people actually taste like strawberries? This, to me, seems like a romance novel trope, that people taste sweet, like chocolate or candy or fruit, but is that real? If it is, I might recommend making the line a little less blunt; it doesn't feel seductive, it feels pushy.

    Also, watch for repetitive sentences that don't move images forward ("Everything felt surreal. I wasn’t sure if I was in my apartment anymore or if I had slipped into a bizarre dream"). That's a great image, but they both communicate the same thing; "everything felt surreal" is tell-y and the next sentence is show-y (which is great!).

    Like I said, really great start. The tweaks wouldn't be worth mentioning if it wasn't.

    Good luck!

  2. You do a great job setting the scene for their encounter and I had no problem picturing them sitting on a couch drinking. Just a couple things -

    First, be really conscious of your word choices, as every one contributes to the mood of the scene. A scene isn't sexy because characters are talking about sex or doing things related to sex - a scene is sexy because of the mood you set, and that is entirely dependent on word choice and sentence structure. "Misfiring synapses" is a bit clinical. "In order to" trips us up - just use "to." Make things flow as easily as possible and give me words that are soft and relaxed - because that's the scene we're in - a tipsy, relaxed, sexy scene.

    I like the last paragraph, but would love less use of the pronoun "I." There are also opportunities here to cut down on the wordiness and rephrase to let the reader feel as lost in Cassia's kiss as Tanya is.

    Nicely done!

  3. There are some nice elements in this scene, and overall the dialogue feels natural and believable -- although, as Cleo pointed out, saying that someone tastes like strawberries and wine is a bit of a romance cliché. (Let's face it -- all that business about kisses being as sweet as honey or wine is pretty silly, since real people don't taste like that; at least, not unless they've just had a mouthful of honey or sweet wine!) But I could buy that kind of flirtatious line if it's coming from a character who's the kind of person who can be a bit dramatic and over the top.

    I see a few things here that could be tidied up. The first sentence is pretty clunky; I think 'misfiring synapses' is funny -- and an apt description of intoxication -- so I don't have a problem with that, but phrases like 'in order to' are rarely necessary, and you also don't need 'over it' at the end of the sentence, since that's understood from the context. So I'd rearrange and simplify that line. Perhaps just: 'I didn't have the strength to fight through the misfiring synapses and argue with her.'

    I also agree with Cleo that I'm not sure you want to say 'fingernails' instead of fingers, unless Cassia has very long nails. And in the dialogue in that sentence, I would put a period after 'table', rather than a comma -- I think that's a separate sentence fragment. Then I tripped over 'loft slash art gallery, etc.'; even though it's spoken, I think you need to punctuate that somehow -- perhaps putting some commas in there.

    I also think there's a punctuation issue with this line: “You,” I pointed my finger at her, “are too much.” Because 'I pointed my finger at her' is an action, I don't believe it's really correct to fit it in there with commas as if it were an actual speech tag. Also, in the last paragraph I think you need a comma after 'Jenna's baby' -- if you read it with a pause there, you'll see that it's much smoother. (I'm not going to call that a 'long' sentence, since it really isn't -- and one of my pet peeves is when people call any sentence that isn't quite short and simple a long sentence! -- but it does need that little 'breath' in there, if you will.)

    I like most of the last paragraph, however, but I would definitely cut 'automatically' in the last line; that's one of those cases where the adverb detracts much more than it adds -- often by 'telling' too much. And again, it feels a bit clunky since it disrupts the flow of the sentence without really adding more depth.

    All in all, I think this passage is effective, as it gives us a sense of their relationship and captures what Tanya is experiencing in a convincing way.

  4. I agree with the other comments, so I'll focus on things that weren't mentioned.

    "She reached over to the wine" - Unclear whether she picked up her wine glass or bottle. You could have her refill both their glasses here.

    "A nervous fluttering shivered through me" is a great line, but maybe a little overkill. Could cut "nervous."

    The part about her red hair struck a different note from the rest of the passage. It comes off as crass, but maybe that's the character. Without that line, the entire scene would sound sexier.

    I agree with the other comments about the final paragraph. If you tighten it, the reader will really be along for the ride. Overall, the scene has heat to it.