TITLE: Dark Waters
GENRE: Women's Fiction
Paige must marry Micah to save her family ranch from bankrupcy. With no better prospect, she agrees.
If Micah realized where my attention lay, fixed on him, he never acknowledged it. Half-turned from me, I observed no more than a distracted outline; jittering as it was. Micah thankfully donned something other than a flannel shirt for the occasion. A well tailored black sports coat covered a dove gray button up shirt. He wore pressed blue jeans, black boots, and no tie. I was positive the outfit was his mother’s doing. Mental images of Amanda stubbornly tugging Micah’s flannel from his resisting, flailing body flashed though my mind. What a jerk.
Unshaven, Micah’s features underwent attack from the jungle of his facial hair. What his beard didn’t hide, sheeting waves of hair did. A chink through the dark pane shielding his face exposed the sliver of an eye. I honed my vision onto that sliver and tried to read into his mind, or, in the least, his mood. The cold blue of his exposed iris jumped to me, covered me, and made me shiver.
My father shifted next to me, dully said something, and then raised my hand to Micah. He took it. Micah's hand was cold, clammy, a wet fish starting to rot. Suddenly it was only the two of us, unwilling to look at each other, and yet, unable to look away. I dutifully played my part, said, “I do,” each time the minister stopped talking and the faces turned in my direction. Then I heard the minister say it:
"...man and wife."
The kiss, God help me, the kiss. I did nothing. Micah searched uncertainly to the minister than back to me. He leaned in and I held my breath, unwilling to take in any more of him. Face blurring, Micah’s lips knocked clumsily against my own, sat there motionless, and were gone again. We were married.
It took me a bit to get into this. I think that was on me, though. I thought they were already married so i was a bit confused. Once i figured out what was going on, though, i was hooked. The kiss was great. I mean, terrible, but great. i feel bad for both of them. A little more him than her, since she's kind of judgemental, but i figure she's got reasons and obviously she's not exactly jumping for joy.ReplyDelete
You do have a typo towards the bottom - Than, vs Then. "Micah searched uncertainly to the minister than back to me"
There are a lot of great details, but not knowing until the end this was the wedding, I couldn't visualize it. I read it a second time with that new knowledge; it helped, but I still felt distanced from the scene. I'm not sure why. I love details, and you have a nice writing style. I think it's the absence of the setting (which I'm sure you did before this snippet) is what's not pulling me in. I don't know if we're inside or outside, what the mood of the people is, what the smells are, etc.ReplyDelete
My favorite part is the end. You did an excellent job in showing the absolute lack of chemistry between those two that their kiss was almost painful to watch. Painful in a good way; in other words, it came across very well.
I have to agree with the comments before.ReplyDelete
The best part for me was the last paragraph, actually the last two made me really sad for her.
But all the descriptions before, I got lost a bit in some of them, and my first impression was they were standing side by side.
Like those before me, it took a while to realize it was the wedding.ReplyDelete
Ignoring that, since I'm assuming it would be obvious if I were already in the story, you can easily tell that she does not want to be here. And, by the way he kisses, he probably doesn't, either. But that's mainly because of all the descriptions: 'cold, clammy' 'cold blue' etc. Where are her emotions, or does she feel numb right now?
Like everyone else said, for me the last paragraph of this was the strongest -- totally the opposite of the usual wedding scene.ReplyDelete
I, too, had trouble figuring out what was going on before that (but that point's been made).
For me, the paragraph about Micah's hair was difficult to cut through. "Micah's features underwent attack..." is passive phrasing. The last sentence, about his cold blue iris jumping, gave me a mental picture of his eye actually leaving its socket. And how could it cover her? I think this is a place where plainer language would make your meaning clearer.
Not to be a broken record with what others are saying, but I agree with the others.ReplyDelete
On a personal reading level, there's a lot of details, and I'm the type of reader who skims them because I want to get to the action. I definitely skimmed Micah's clothing and it was easy enough to pick up that he doesn't normally dress that way.
With less description, more space to talk about the kiss. It's so short, and a lot of build up. Like the others, I'd be interested in hearing what her feelings were and what she thinks about being married (though that may be because it's just an excerpt).
It didn't bother me that I didn't realize it wasn't the wedding until close to the end. We're being dropped in the middle of the story. If we'd read from the beginning, we'd know exactly what was going on.ReplyDelete
I liked much of this, although I agree with others that I'd like to know more about what she's feeling. I did like the description of his cold and clammy hand.
The second paragraph was a bit overwritten for me - at least that first sentence. I think if you pare it down, it will be more effective.
This really sucked me in -- and I had at first glossed over it b/c I was looking for excerpts in my genre. The way you describe the kiss moment was what drew me in. I love your writing style and the narrator's voice. She comes across as very real, resigned to the marriage and aware of whatever limitations have landed her here.ReplyDelete
The bit about the glimmer of Micah's blue eye hints at some sort of whoomp-whoomp-heart-beating conversion later on...but all the other detail about his appearance makes clear that right now the narrator finds him just blech. Hey, maybe the flash of blue means he's a psycho killer; who knows :) But it was a nice touch that made me curious.
Couple of points I thought you could clarify: "what a jerk" Was this Micah or the mother? Assuming Micah, but it wasn't totally clear to me.
Micha's hand was cold, clammy, a wet fish...I found this jarred against the overall tone and voice. The hyperbole is funny, and it's a nice visceral reaction -- but everything the narrator has said so far has been much more measured. Perhaps you could isolate this reaction (i.e. grammatically -- break it out) to emphasize it.
Good luck with your revisions!
You set the scene and tone really well -- I thought it might be a wedding when you described Micah's dove gray shirt.ReplyDelete
The description about his facial hair is a bit too much, and using the word "jungle" in this context pulled me out of the scene. You might simplify with "Unshaven, as usual. What his beard didn't hide..." Also, as Rebecca mentioned, the iris "jumped" quite literally in my mind, just for a moment. Perhaps: "A glimpse of his exposed iris startled me..." Or you might pare it out entirely, which gives it a bit more resonance.
Fewer non-essential descriptions will make the important descriptions pop. The reader has to focus hard on each description, and over the length of a novel, it can become tiring and make the reader tune out. You have a gift for creative and beautifully worded descriptions, but too much will stand in the way of the story's momentum.
Love the punch of drama at the end. Brilliantly done. The voice gets a little too formal at times, a little inconsistent there, and I agree with the comments about the more intricate descriptions. However, cutting through that, I can both see and feel this scene. Well done!ReplyDelete
I enjoyed the awkwardness between your hero and heroine. The lack of wedding mention didn't bother me, as I assumed we were at the wedding as soon as you mentioned his jacket.ReplyDelete
Like others have said, you can pare down the descriptions (such as the hair and facial hair) so a reader knows what to focus on (the glimmer in Micah's eye).
The cold, clammy fish description of his hand made me smile, and feel sorry for the both of them.
I love this reluctant narrator and appreciate how difficult this is for her. I like how you described her dutifully saying 'I do' as the minister paused and turned her way. Like she's on auto-pilot. So good.ReplyDelete
And like was said before wonderful/terrible kiss.
A bit too much detail about his beard and irises but other than a few extra unneeded details its very captivatingReplyDelete
I love the awkwardness of this situation. There are some clarity issues (who is the jerk, him or the mother? And the jungle of facial hair attacking Micah's features wasn't entirely clear to me until after I'd read it a few times, though I could just be dumb. :)) and I definitely agree that the descriptions could be cut back. There are some points where the language seems a bit inconsistent (honed my vision is so formal).ReplyDelete
Also, the best descriptions you used were connected to Paige's reactions or physical sensations (the cold, clammy, wet fish hand and the blue of Micah's iris). Do more of that. I'd love to have more specifics of what she's feeling.
LOVED the kiss. LOVED the sentence "He leaned in and I held my breath, unwilling to take any more of him." That says so very much about her feelings...more of that kind of thing and this will be just excellent.
Good pacing, good voice, good rhythm. I liked how you convey her opinions about this marriage without ever saying so explicitly. There are a couple of places it feels overdone ("Micah's hand was cold, clammy, a wet fish starting to rot" for example) but for the most part it's right on. THanks!ReplyDelete
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You definitely put us into this situation and make us care what will happen here. Language can be tightened:ReplyDelete
If Micah realized where my attention lay, fixed on him, he never acknowledged it. [Awkward--try "If Micah realized my attention was fixed on him, he didn't acknowledge it."] Half-turned from me, [Who was half turned? Micah? Awk] I observed no more than a distracted outline; jittering as it was. Micah thankfully [Micah wasn't thankful...adverb to cut] donned something other than a flannel shirt for the occasion. A well tailored black sports coat covered a dove gray button up shirt. He wore pressed blue jeans, black boots, and no tie. I was positive [skip "I was positive, just say it must have been his mother's doing and you'll keep us closer to your narrator] the outfit was his mother’s doing. Mental images of Amanda stubbornly tugging Micah’s flannel from his resisting, flailing body [This makes him sound like a 5 year old] flashed though my mind. What a jerk.
Unshaven, Micah’s features underwent attack from the jungle of his facial hair. [Maybe just "Micah's features were under attack from the jungle of his facial hair] What his beard didn’t hide, sheeting waves of hair did. A chink through the dark pane shielding his face exposed the sliver of an eye. I honed my vision onto that sliver and tried to read into his mind, or, in the least, his mood. The cold blue of his exposed iris jumped to me, covered me, [jumped to and covered? I don't quite see that. Maybe choose one.] and made me shiver. [Did she actually shiver? With jumped to or covered me we could get the revulsion in this context w/out the shiver.]
My father shifted next to me, dully [Dully needed? Leaving out what he said alone gives us the impression that she's dazed] said something, and then raised my hand to Micah. He took it. Micah's hand was cold, clammy, a wet fish starting to rot [Hand like a wet fish is somewhat cliche--is there a metaphor more relevant to your story you could use?]. Suddenly it was only the two of us, unwilling to look at each other, and yet, unable to look away. I dutifully played my part [dutifully played my part is implied here, I'd chop], said, “I do,” each time the minister stopped talking and the faces [Whose faces? the minister's or the crowds? Maybe just say "the crowd turned."] turned in my direction. Then I heard the minister say it:
"...man and wife."
The kiss, God help me, the kiss. [This almost makes it sound like it's a good thing, but I do like how you've used her voice to put us in the moment here.] I did nothing. Micah searched uncertainly [Looked instead of searched?] to the minister than [Earlier commenter got this one] back to me. He leaned in and I held my breath, unwilling to take in any more of him. [I like this one] Face blurring [Micah's face blurred? This is somewhat awkward construction b/c it seems like the lips were blurring the face], Micah’s lips knocked clumsily [Lose clumsily. Knocked is an amazing verb that tells us everything we need to know here.] against my own, sat there motionless, and were gone again. We were married.