GENRE: Adult Historical fiction
Liam, an Irish boxer, has asked Deirdre to marry him after being away for four years on a boxing tour. This is something she has dreamed about for years.
“I can’t marry you, or anyone, not now. Clare’s always wanted to be a doctor. Mom and Dad told her they couldn’t afford the tuition, so I promised Clare that I’d get a job. My wages could help send her to college, and then to medical school, where she is now. I can’t break that promise.”
“Is that all, love? I’ve a wee bit saved that I thought we could use to buy a house in Queens or Brooklyn, but we can always rent an apartment for a few years instead, and give those few coins to Clare. So, now that we’ve settled all that, when should we get married?”
“Oh, Liam, if only it was that easy.”
“It is, love.”
“You don’t know the worst of it yet. I didn’t either, until tonight. Tonight, I looked across the ring and saw my sister, Fanny. She was with a man. A married man!”
“And how would you know that, love?”
“I saw his wedding band. On the third finger of his left hand, that’s how, Liam O’Mara. Do you think I go around making crazy guesses like that? She’s brought disgrace to the whole family. Your mom would never allow you to marry someone whose sister is no better than a common woman, and Mr. Donovan wouldn’t want to hire someone who had a sister-in-law like that. Someone who could bring disgrace to the New York Athletic Club, would he? She’s always only cared about herself. I hate her!”
Sounds like you've got a good set-up for conflict between our unhappy pair! It's hard to judge the time period--you say historical, but that could be anything from the 1980s on back. I'm guessing from your more formal choice of dialogue that this takes place in an earlier century (though "Mom" and "Dad" are more modern terms).ReplyDelete
Overall, I think your characters' words are a bit overdone. In attempting to recreate the sometimes-more-formal speech of earlier times, it's easy to fall into the over-writing trap.
I would encourage you to read this dialogue out loud. Our tongues and ears tend to let us know when dialogue sounds clunky or unbelievable.
The last chunk of dialogue is particularly dense, and I would encourage you to pair it down.
Also, you're not using any tags (he said, she said) or beats (bits of action), so there's no setting. I want to feel some emotion. I'm not even sure which character is the protagonist! Give us glimpses of the emotion that this scene contains, and draw us deeper into the thought of your MC. And break up those big chunks of words!
“I can’t marry you, or anyone; not now."
Liam looked as though he'd forgotten how to breathe. "Not...now?"
"Clare’s always wanted to be a doctor." Deirdre couldn't seem to control the tremble in her voice. "Mom and Dad told her they couldn’t afford the tuition, so I promised Clare that I’d get a job. My wages could help send her to college, and then to medical school, where she is now. I can’t break that promise.”
"Is that all, love?" Liam sounded relieved. "“I’ve a wee bit saved that I thought we could use to buy a house in Queens or Brooklyn, but we can always rent an apartment for a few years instead, and give those few coins to Clare." He smiled. "So, now that we’ve settled all that, when should we get married?”
Best of luck!
Interesting! And I already feel for poor Deidre, who is finally getting the proposal of her dreams but can't marry due to her family. But I do agree that it reads a bit unemotional. This is a big deal for both, turning down a proposal from the man you love and dreamed of and being turned down by the woman you loved and pined for from afar for four long years. I realize they might have been more restrained than we would today, but as they already know how they feel about each other, they can let some emotions fly, even if held back a bit.ReplyDelete
I got the feel of the era right away though, so good job! I'd totally read this!
I wasn't sure what time period this is, but from the way they’re talking, I’d guess early-to-mid twentieth century?ReplyDelete
Some of the wording is a bit awkward and could use smoothing out. It’s also repetitious in places and could be pared down. Reading it out loud would help with that.
I think you need to drill down the emotions in this scene. Show us what the characters are really feeling. Deidre’s regret. Liam’s frustration. Focusing on their emotions would give us a better sense of who these people are and how they're dealing with challenges and disappointments. Thanks for sharing this with us and good luck.
First thing I noticed was the lack of emotions, this should be a really intense scene I would think, but it plays out as very low stakes and ho-hum. The "I hate her!" starts to show the feelings simmering, but I would like to see some signs of that intensity earlier.ReplyDelete
I also do think the "love" was a bit overdone. If he says it every single time he talks, it starts to become too noticeable instead of natural.
But the set up is interesting and I hope they find a way to get married :)