kathy.strobos

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  • in reply to: A Tale of TWO OPENINGS : Finders Keepers/Linnea Sinclair #43057
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Well I’m still reading Swain and taking your classes, but I’m still not quite there yet. I just failed your agent’s 30 pages action test. Lol.

    BUT my opening was on the dining room table and my 12 year old started reading it at breakfast. And kept reading. And then said, “That’s a good opening.” Which is high praise because usually she is very critical.

    So I’m getting there 🙂 Thank you again for a great class.

    in reply to: Freebies and Writing Goodies for your Toolbox! #43047
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Thank you for another great class! And I also enjoyed/learned from everybody’s posts.

    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Re-posting here, since I put it in the wrong place.

    Since I just read this, it was fascinating to see an original opening. Thank you for sharing.

    In the final opening, you’re hooked immediately because you have an “intruder” alarm going off.  She “shot” to her feet, she “bolts.” You can feel the tension and the danger with the use of all those words. And specific words just keep adding to it. “more trouble than she can handle”, “coils of black conduit snaked”, “crazed staccato”, “data ominous and incomplete”. Equipment problems. I also immediately got a sense of Trilby’s character  – competent, resourceful, scrappy.

    The original feels more contemplative and she’s a spectator to a firefight, but she doesn’t actually have a bone in the fight (yet). And this line “she no longer felt the Yscko were a threat, at least, not to her, not here” immediately reduces the conflict and tension. A lot of setting, but it is not impinging on her character the way it did above and thus showing her character as she deals with equipment malfunctions.

    And I am so glad you added Dezi, because he is so funny. And sweet.

    And congratulations on your son’s engagement if I read that correctly. If they just got engaged after being quarantined together, that’s true love 🙂

    in reply to: HOOK ‘EM: LESSON SIX #43033
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Since I just read this, it was fascinating to see an original opening.

    In the final opening, you’re hooked immediately because you have an “intruder” alarm going off.  She “shot” to her feet, she “bolts.” You can feel the tension and the danger with the use of all those words. And specific words just keep adding to it. “more trouble than she can handle”, “coils of black conduit snaked”, “crazed staccato”, “data ominous and incomplete”. Equipment problems. I also immediately got a sense of Trilby’s character  – competent, resourceful, scrappy.

    The original feels more contemplative and she’s a spectator to a firefight, but she doesn’t actually have a bone in the fight (yet). And this line “she no longer felt the Yscko were a threat, at least, not to her, not here” immediately reduces the conflict and tension. A lot of setting, but it is not impinging on her character the way it did above and thus showing her character as she deals with equipment malfunctions.

    And I am so glad you added Dezi, because he is so funny. And sweet.

    And congratulations on your son’s engagement if I read that correctly. If they just got engaged after being quarantined together, that’s true love 🙂

     

     

     

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42949
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    On any top ten list of best Sunday plans, today’s brunch with my former crush and his new girlfriend would rank number eleven . . . HUNDRED. But I couldn’t say no. We’re still friends. And I’m over him. Just keep telling yourself that. But there is absolutely no risk I will ever say “I love you, Jamie” again. I shudder.

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42945
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    I still need to work on my opening because I want to get in some of that internal conflict that she’s faking that she’s over him because that hints at the whole fake dating trope theme

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42944
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Homework Answer:

    Rebecca Rector’s <u>Delivering Danger</u> (great title)

    I really loved this opening and so I studied it to see what drew me in. Definitely voice. And for specificity, I think this sentence where he refers to the uniformed guards as “uniforms” which seems so spot on.

    Uniforms were never good. Never met any that lived up to the brightness of his shiny
    buttons. Especially here in Earth Port City.

    At first I couldn’t find any issues. But then I thought about Linnea’s comments about what is credible and I thought that this could be changed:

    “You think we did right?” the bald uniform said, as they shoved their way through the
    crowd.
     “Putting it through a regular delivery service?”

    “You want to get shot up? Course we did right. Let someone else take the risk.”

    Shot up. Risk. What were they talking about? [They merged into the crowd.]

    An oily-haired businessman strode along like he owned the place and knocked into me.

    “Hey!” he yelled, like it was my fault.

    It doesn’t seem like he’d overhear their conversation if they were in a crowd and he was pressed up against a shop. Or that they’d have that conversation in a crowd. Maybe change that to: as they passed by him. I think we would believe that they would disregard him because he’s a small boy.

    Then have them merge into the crowd.

     

     

    Mary Haselbue’s opening for <u>In the Cards</u> (Love the title):

    I really enjoyed the dialogue here, but since I am not that familiar with Con, I became a bit confused at parts. Also, there was the heads talking in white space syndrome, which I do all the time in my manuscript. (And even when I think I’ve found them all, I still find pages of heads talking in white space.) But this is a great opportunity to give more of a feel for the whole convention.

     

    Cecelia handed the dark-haired man her business card. “Now, keep this. It is playable in the game. If you have any questions about the rules just text me.” He thanked her, slipped the card into the bag, and ran off.

    I got confused about why a business card is playable in the game. And it seems odd that he would “run” off in a big crowded, convention hall. Maybe have him disappear into the crowd.

     

    I really liked this dialogue:

    “Whoa. Paying for the booth before the con even opens is way better than a con boyfriend.”

    “No kidding.”

    “You are still smiling.”

    “He’d make a nice con boyfriend. Those cheekbones. Then he won a hand and those dimples and his eyes lit up. I should draw a picture while I still remember.”

    Amber pulled her sandwich out of the bag. “Stop. Now. You are grossing me out.”
    “Our hands touched and I swear there were sparks.”
    “Oh God. Please no.”

    There had been no sparks, not literally. He had paid intense concentration to her as she explained the rules. That was damn sexy.

    I also liked the details you provided about her being an artist (the white paint on her fingernails) and how she wanted to draw him. Also, I’ve been to book conventions and miniatures conventions, so these may be a different set-up than a booth, but there you have a table and no back table so people have to eat lunch on lap or on little side tables that they’ve brought or the plastic boxes that they’ve stored their wares in that now can serve as a table on the side. If they have a back table, do they have to clear it to make space? Are they storing additional games there? Because the front table is used to show how to play the game?

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42942
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Definitely better – I thought about saying 100, but I like “eleven. . . hundred.”

    Yes, definitely, the public rationale is: We’re still friends. And she’s doing the brunch thing to prove to him and herself that she’s over him.

    BUT

    Internal Conflict: She’s not sure she’s over him and she’s definitely still hurt and confused by his rejection.

    I was hoping it sounded a bit like false denial.

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42940
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    I tried to improve the opening line, thinking about genre, and the romcom genre often starts out with top ten lists. 

    On any top ten list of best Sunday plans, today’s brunch with my former crush and his new girlfriend would rank number eleven. But I couldn’t say no. We’re still friends. And I’m over him. There’s absolutely no risk I will say “I love you, Jamie” ever again.

    The subway is oddly crowded at this time of day. I squeeze on, getting the prime real estate spot leaning against the metal doors (right up against the “Do Not Lean On Door” warning) and hold on tight to a small sliver of a handrail. As the train approaches 42<sup>nd</sup> Street, the conductor announces that it is going express, and groans erupt. Works for me. At 42<sup>nd</sup> Street, half the train empties out, but it quickly fills back up, as if we’d all just exchanged dance partners. Three stops later and the train car shudders to a stop, spitting me out along with a stream of passengers jostling each other to get a place in the ant line marching up the stairs. The last brush-by without even a “Scuze me” skews my hat, my favorite 1920’s style cloche. So much for all the time I spent positioning it just right, so I’d look different—more sophisticated—less cute little buddy—when Jamie sees me again. I adjust it and push through the turnstile. Even before I reach the last step of the stairs to the street, the smell of honey-roasted nuts from the Nuts 4 Nuts vendor cart at the top is making me hungry.

    At least Rory agreed to join me at this brunch with Jamie and his new girlfriend, so I’m not the rejected third wheel. Chambers Street is crowded with vendor tables, but not many people yet. The juice shop smells of coconut and lime; the phone store and clothing store with back-to-school sale signs are still in business, not yet joining the other boarded-up stores on this block. And then Michael’s. The lure is strong. Not that I need any more crafting supplies, but it seems a waste to be in the neighborhood and not check out its sale selection. But I want to be first to the battlefield, able to plan my strategy, as advised in The Art of War. Not that I’ve read it, just The Art of War for Writers.

    One more block. Rory is leaning against a streetlight, reading a book. One lock of his brown wavy hair has fallen onto his face, and he pushes it away, to join the rest of his unruly mop of hair. He could be modeling menswear, except that the cover of the book he’s holding is bright pink and yellow. A romcom book I recommended. He wanted to read other books in my genre so he could compare my draft manuscript to the competition, and so I gave him a list of my favorites. He looks up and our glances catch. My heart melts just a little bit. Rory’s blue-green eyes slayed many a woman in college.

    “Like your hat, Penelope. Suits you.” Rory kisses me on the cheek. He smells like fresh laundry.

    We push open the door to the brunch place. Bells jingle and the buttery smell of pancakes welcomes us. The restaurant has this white-washed wood old farmhouse vibe. Lots of vintage signs with pictures of black and white cows or a bushel of peaches for $1 decorate the walls. We stand in line in the small foyer waiting to be seated. I’ve been seeing more of Rory lately. He broke up with his last girlfriend about two months ago. When he has a girlfriend, we see each other about once a month. But now he calls me to get together for brunch nearly every Sunday. My best friend Zelda, who also knows Rory from college, was like: “Well, he obviously likes to hang out with you, but you’re solidly in the friend lane with this Sunday brunch thing.” Trust Zelda for straight talk. It’s not that I thought I was changing lanes and moving to the speeding girlfriend lane. I’m good driving at a controlled 60-miles-an-hour, and not hazardously heading-for-a-heartbreak on some highway of love.

    “How do you like the book?” I punch his arm playfully.

    “It’s good. Better than I expected. Funny.” Rory smiles. “So, what’s with this fake boyfriend trope? This is the second one with it.”

    “I like that trope.” I tilt my head.

    “Do you?” Something in the way he asks makes me look at him more closely.

    “Yes. I’m writing a fake dating plot now.”

    “Why do you like it?”

    “Friends to lovers seems more realistic.” I smile at Rory. “So, what happened on Thursday? Your voicemail message. Did you say your client’s wife  . .  .?

    Rory raises his eyebrow. “Exactly. I got this weird vibe from my client’s wife, but I thought no—she’s got to be about 50 and my client is right there—and then, she copped a feel of my butt.”

    “No.”

    “Oh yes. I jumped.” Rory laughs. “Which threw her too. But still, it’s fucking awkward.”

    “That’s crazy. Did she pinch anybody else’s butt?”

    Rory laughs. “I didn’t take a poll.”

    I point at the book. “I know what you need. You need a fake girlfriend to protect you at client functions.”

    Rory stills, staring at me. “That’s not a bad idea.”

    “You’re welcome.” Rory takes off his coat and he’s wearing this worn t-shirt that does little to hide his flatboard stomach. Mmmm. “But aren’t there any women currently in the running to be a real girlfriend?”

    “No.”

    “How is that possible?” We move up in the brunch line. We should be next. The smell of bacon frying is making me hungry.

    Rory just gives me his look of annoyance, which is one eyebrow cocked, head tilt and a slight shake of his head. “Did I miss the memo where you’re dating someone?”

    “There wouldn’t be a memo.”

    “Your sister would definitely issue a memo.”

    I laugh. “A legal memo. To whom it may concern. But seriously, Rory, you’re not usually at a lack for dance partners.”

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42931
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Ah-hah Moments from 9 Openings to Avoid: the WHOLE article

    – Pubrants – just finding that blog will be a great resource;

    – have the setting impinge on your character. The difference in those two descriptions really struck me.

    – the exercise to outline the action plot points by chapter

    – the exercise to check for past-perfect verbs in your opening

    – all the examples were illuminating

    And I read Finders Keepers yesterday (couldn’t put it down) and I LOVED it! So funny too. Laughed out loud at several points (the line about the species of asshole on legs). And also an excellent lesson in ramping up conflict, making stakes higher, no way out.

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42887
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    That’s great Kendra! I revised it:

    My best friend Zelda, who also knows Rory from college, was like: “Well, he obviously likes to hang out with you, but you’re solidly in the friend lane with this Sunday brunch thing.” Trust Zelda for straight talk. It’s not that I thought I was changing lanes and moving to the speeding girlfriend lane. I’m good driving at a controlled 60-miles-an-hour, not hazardously heading-for-a-heartbreak on some highway of love.

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42860
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Kendra, your comment made my day because I was trying to show Rory as a good guy. And so I am so happy that worked. Her misbelief is that it’s dangerous to love someone/better to be less emotionally involved.  [The misbelief gets confirmed once again when she tells Jamie she loves him and he says he doesn’t feel the same way.] The only hint of that is in the conversation with Rory at the end.  She is insecure and concerned about her appearance because she’s about to see Jamie, so appearance is important is not her misbelief. But I understand why you thought that. I need to re-read the lesson to see how to flag the actual misbelief more in these opening pages. Thank you.

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42818
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Ah-hah moments

    “Nothing can change the past. Therefore, there’s little to no reader involvement and tension in reading the past.” (Which I think was also in your internal conflict class, but still resonated again).

    “Take the information [from the character’s origin scene] and pack it into Motivation of the GMC.” That was really helpful, because I feel I need more motivation in my scenes–also to create more tension for higher stakes–what does she risk losing?

    I had the same reaction as Pepper to the Lisa Cron piece, but I did think maybe I should try it. I wrote three backstory scenes for this WIP following Story Genuis (original, confirmation of belief etc), but not three different ones.

    I tried to bring my origin scene (her misbelief that seeking that magical connection can be emotionally devastating, so better to be less emotionally involved/better to be off in fictional world) into the dialogue between her and Rory.

    And I wasn’t sure if Rory’s comment about Jamie being was too on-the-nose. I wasn’t sure if he should not say it or just start to say it and stop: “That explains . . . ”

    Also, I am reading The Art of War for Writers, which you recommended previously, and I love this quote under his chapter title “Speed is the essence of opening”: “Steven Wright wrote: ‘My house is on the median strip of the highway. You don’t really notice, except I have to leave the driveway doing sixty miles an hour.'” Lol.

    in reply to: Student: Ana Morgan Homework Thread #42816
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    I agree with Ellen’s comments about wanting more deep POV and Vicki’s comments that this is darker than the first version.  Also, I was really surprised by the twist that Dr. Franco Puissard whose father was killed by her father is the prison administrator. I was initially surprised by the switch to Franco and so I went back to see who that was. But that seemed like a clear conflict of interest, not that that doesn’t happen in real life. But I also felt you could play that up more and give some reason why: Franco who hated her father, and she’d told the court that her father shouldn’t be held at this facility, that it was a conflict of interest, but it was also the closest and renowned. and ultimately the court hadn’t had much sympathy for her father (or something like that).

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42814
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    I really like your revised intro too, especially when she shows her skill at flower arranging.

    I would not have Edward “squawk”. That makes him sound less attractive, IMHO.

    Also, I wondered why she looked terrible. You could also have Edward come to her office because he heard Sondra is now working on the pharmaceutical case and not her, and he can’t believe her father didn’t staff her on that case. Unless she looks terrible because she’s stressed about her decision.

    I also thought that if she’s walking around getting the scissors, it’s a little weird that she doesn’t also get the flower arrangement while she’s up.  (But this is because in my house, with kids, we have a lot of arguments about who’s closest and who’s already up when someone asks for something.)

    I didn’t see any unnecessary backstory. I like the way you know wove in the tension between the father and the mother. I am not sure what her misbelief is (maybe it relates to that she thought she wanted to be a lawyer).

    in reply to: Student: Kendra Frost Homework Thread #42796
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    This is even better than the first draft, and I really liked the first draft. The only thing that struck me was that if she just moved into a place, I would expect some sort of “exploring/this is new”feeling. I really loved how you wrote that you loved the descriptions of places in openings, and I feel like you could add a bit more of that here. Is there something she likes about this new bedroom compared to her previous bedroom? Does this room have a closet and maybe the last one didn’t? Or is there less space? Has she changed the layout of her furniture? She could even ask the stuffies what they think of the new room?

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42773
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Kathy Strobos Rewrite.

    (I’ll have to think more carefully about first person present. I had read some articles that some editors hated it. Thanks for all the great comments.)

    Chapter One

    I just have to make it through this brunch with my crush. And convince him I’m over him. That there’s absolutely no risk I will say “I love you, Jamie” again.

    The subway is oddly crowded at this time of day. I squeeze on, getting the prime real estate spot leaning against the metal doors (right up against the “Do Not Lean On Door” warning) and hold on tight to a small sliver of a handrail. As the train approaches 42<sup>nd</sup> Street, the conductor announces that it is going express, and groans erupt. Works for me. At 42<sup>nd</sup> Street, half the train empties out, but it quickly fills back up, as if we’d all just exchanged dance partners. Three stops later and the train car shudders to a stop, spitting me out along with a stream of passengers jostling each other to get a place in the ant line marching up the stairs. The last brush-by without even a “Scuze me” skews my hat, my favorite 1920’s style cloche. So much for all the time I spent positioning it just right, so I’d look different—more sophisticated—less cute little buddy—when Jamie sees me again. I adjust it and push through the turnstile. Even before I reach the last step of the stairs to the street, the smell of honey-roasted nuts from the Nuts 4 Nuts vendor cart at the top is making me hungry.

    At least Rory agreed to join me at this brunch with Jamie and his new girlfriend, so I’m not the rejected third wheel. Chambers Street is crowded with vendor tables, but not many people yet. The juice shop smells of coconut and lime; the phone store and clothing store with back-to-school sale signs are still in business, not yet joining the other boarded-up stores on this block. And then Michael’s. The lure is strong. Not that I need any more crafting supplies, but it seems a waste to be in the neighborhood and not check out its sale selection. But I want to be first to the battlefield, able to plan my strategy, as advised in The Art of War. Not that I’ve read it, just The Art of War for Writers.

    One more block. Rory is leaning against a streetlight, reading a book. One lock of his brown wavy hair has fallen onto his face, and he pushes it away, to join the rest of his unruly mop of hair. He could be modeling menswear, except that the cover of the book he’s holding is bright pink and yellow. A romcom book I recommended. He wanted to read other books in my genre so he could compare my draft manuscript to the competition, and so I gave him a list of my favorites. He looks up and our glances catch. My heart melts just a little bit. Rory’s blue-green eyes slayed many a woman in college.

    “Like your hat, Penelope. Suits you.” Rory kisses me on the cheek. He smells like fresh laundry.

    We push open the door to the brunch place. Bells jingle and the buttery smell of pancakes welcomes us. The restaurant has this white-washed wood old farmhouse vibe. Lots of vintage signs with pictures of black and white cows or a bushel of peaches for $1 decorate the walls. We stand in line in the small foyer waiting to be seated. I’ve been seeing more of Rory lately. He broke up with his last girlfriend about two months ago. When he has a girlfriend, we see each other about once a month. But now he calls me to get together for brunch nearly every Sunday. My best friend Zelda, who also knows Rory from college, was like: “Well, he obviously likes to hang out with you, but you’re solidly in the friend lane with this Sunday brunch thing.” It’s not that I thought I was changing lanes and moving to the speeding girlfriend lane. I just wondered. Trust Zelda for straight talk.

    “How do you like the book?” I punch his arm playfully.

    “It’s good. Better than I expected. Funny.” Rory smiles. “So, what’s with this fake boyfriend trope? This is the second one with it.”

    “I like that trope.” I tilt my head.

    “Do you?” Something in the way he asks makes me look at him more closely.

    “Yes. I’m writing a fake dating plot now. Why? Are you looking for a fake girlfriend?”

    “Maybe.” He bites his lip. “I got this weird vibe from my client’s wife, but I thought no—she’s got to be about 50 and my client is right there—and then, she copped a feel of my butt.”

    “No.”

    “Oh yes. I jumped.” Rory laughs. “Which threw her too. But still, it’s fucking awkward. So, I need a girlfriend.”

    “Aren’t there any women currently in the running to be a real girlfriend?”

    “No.”

    “How is that possible?” We move up in the brunch line. We should be next. The smell of bacon frying is making me hungry.

    Rory just gives me his look of annoyance, which is one eyebrow cocked, head tilt and a slight shake of his head. “Did I miss the memo where you’re dating someone?”

    “There wouldn’t be a memo.”

    “Your sister would definitely issue a memo.”

    I laugh. “A legal memo. To whom it may concern. But seriously, Rory, you’re not usually at a lack for dance partners.”

    “I am now. Marie was always asking me, ‘so where do you see this going?’ Which really kills any . . . uh . . . magic. And Callie . .  .” He shakes his head.

    Another couple enters the foyer. Rory and I move closer together to make space. I am practically on top of Rory.

    The man kisses the woman on the forehead and looks deep into her eyes. What if Jamie looks like that at his new girlfriend? I feel nauseous. No, that would be good. Better than watching him with a parade of different women I didn’t merit joining.

    I look up. “That magical connection can be dangerous.”

    “Is that bad?” He gives me a lopsided grin.

    “Dangerously devastating if you lose that person.” Or he doesn’t “feel the same way.” “Or if it leads to too high expectations.”

    “So, you’re just looking for humdrum? That explains Jamie.”

    “Jamie is not humdrum.”

    Rory flips through the book. “No, ‘every part of her burned with fire’ for you?”

    “I’m not particularly looking.” I cross my arms.

    “But you’re writing a romantic comedy.”

    in reply to: Student: Kendra Frost Homework Thread #42720
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    I loved this opening. I already liked/felt empathy for the protagonist just from the line “my whole life is boxes” which made me think that she moved a lot and was living with a not-totally-together aunt (dirty clothes, dirty dishes).  Then of course you added the ferret and her magical powers and I was hooked by her conflict not to be drawn into conversation with the ferret. And then you ended with another twist/hook that there was no sky (as previously commented).

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42661
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Thanks so much for your comments. The inciting incident is when Rory asks her to be his fake girlfriend and she says yes. It happens on the next page, which I think works for my genre.

    The trigger is Jamie’s imminent arrival and her wanting to look like she’s over him, so she doesn’t completely think it through and agrees to Rory’s proposal as Jamie enters the restaurant. And then Jamie says how he’s not speaking to his former best friend because he lied to him during the lunch and so she’s more invested in keeping up the facade.

    It’s a big Change for her (and their relationship), even though they both don’t think it will change anything (bwah-hah-hah), so the threat is change.

    Thanks for your suggestions. I don’t think you missed anything. I will amp up the emotions and go deeper into her head. And see if I can vary the “I”s more. After our deep POV class, I wondered if I should change this to deep third.

     

     

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42652
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Ellen, I enjoyed this one as well.

    Trigger: she’s been feeling dissatisfied with her workaholic lawyer lifestyle, which crystallized when she couldn’t adopt Soldier. (That vignette was great. Also, great dog name.)

    Inciting Incident: she is going home to help her mom (and she turned down a big case to do that)

    Hook: I liked her, liked the suggested possibility of romance between her and Edward, and I hope that she is able to adopt Soldier. I haven’t read any cozy mysteries, so I am not sure if they start out with more of a suggestion of some mystery about to happen.

    I would’ve liked a bit more conflict expressed between the dad and mom and her in terms of their relationships. How did the dad take her turning down the case to help his divorced  wife? I would have her answer Edward’s question as to what her dad said. Was her parents’ split amicable? Does her dad know she’s having a change of heart about her career and isn’t he upset if he’s been grooming her to to be his partner? just a few lines or internal thoughts: That conversation with her dad hadn’t gone well. Best not to dwell on it right now. Unless he’d been understanding about her needing to help her mom– and maybe didn’t realize that this also meant she was having doubts about her career.

    in reply to: Student: Rebecca Rector Homework Thread #42651
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    I really enjoyed reading your story and I was definitely hooked and wanted to keep reading. I particularly loved that right after he says “not a chance I’ll get it”, he pushes in to try to get it. And that kind of sums up his character which is part of the emotional hook. He feels like an underdog fighter who I want to root for. You did a great job in bringing in all those details – always hungry, mom and dad dead, washed up in the men’s bathroom, found the skates, doesn’t trip in the hills, etc.

    Trigger: New Job

    I presume that the inciting incident will be that he is chosen to deliver the package. I was confused about the package and Hands Only vs Regular Delivery. I re-read the elite guard conversation and since they said they had put it regular delivery, and he was trying for the HO delivery, I thought maybe it was not the same package that they had dropped off. But it seemed like it should be the same package. Unless he doesn’t get the HO package and then he gets the regular delivery package, which is actually the dangerous one.

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42642
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    <h2>Is This For Real?</h2>
    Kathy Strobos

    Romantic Comedy/women’s fiction with romance as a central element
    <h2>Chapter One</h2>
    I just have to make it through this brunch with my crush. And convince him that I’m over him. That there’s absolutely no risk I will say “I love you” to him again.

    I adjust my 1920’s cloche hat and push through the subway turnstile. At least Rory agreed to join me at this brunch with Jamie and his new girlfriend, so I’m not the rejected third wheel. I jog up the stairs out of the subway station to be greeted by the smell of honey-roasted nuts from the Nuts 4 Nuts vendor cart at the corner. I walk down Sixth Avenue towards the restaurant, passing by a juice shop which smells of coconut and lime, a phone store, a clothing store with back-to-school sale signs, some boarded-up stores, and Michael’s. I should have left earlier, so I could’ve popped into Michael’s. Not that I need any more crafting supplies, but it seems a waste to be in the neighborhood and not check out their sale selection.

    One more block. I pass by a cute guy with a backwards baseball cap carrying a basketball. He smiles and whistles. I look behind me to check out who caught his attention. There’s nobody. I flush. I knew my hat was the right call. Hats have a certain magical power that we New Yorkers have completely forgotten, bestowing a sense of glamour upon the wearer. My average looks and height are not such that people are usually whistling at me on the street. At 5’4”, with my brown curly hair and blue eyes, I am the epitome of “cute” or even worse, “pixie-like.” This hat changes that to “sophisticated” with my curls peeking out.

    Rory is leaning against a streetlight, reading a book. One lock of his brown wavy hair has fallen onto his face, and he pushes it away, to join the rest of his unruly mop of hair. He could be modeling menswear, except that the cover of the book he’s holding is bright pink and yellow. A romcom book I recommended. He wanted to read other books in my genre so he could compare my draft manuscript to the competition, and so I gave him a list of my favorites. He looks up and our glances catch. My heart melts just a little bit. Rory’s blue-green eyes slayed many a woman in college.

    “Like your hat, Penelope. Suits you,” Rory kisses me on the cheek. He smells like fresh laundry.

    We push open the door to the brunch place. Bells jingle and I breathe in the buttery smell of pancakes. The restaurant has this white-washed wood old farmhouse vibe. Lots of vintage signs with pictures of black and white cows or a bushel of peaches for $1 decorate the walls. We stand in line in the small foyer waiting to be seated. I’ve been seeing more of Rory lately. He broke up with his last girlfriend about two months ago. When he has a girlfriend, we see each other about once a month. But now he calls me to get together for brunch nearly every Sunday. My best friend Zelda, who also knows Rory from college, was like: “Well, he obviously likes to hang out with you, but you’re solidly in the friend lane with this Sunday brunch thing.” It’s not that I thought I was changing lanes and moving to the speeding girlfriend lane. I just wondered. Trust Zelda for straight talk.

    “Do you like the book?” I punch his arm playfully.

    “It’s good. Better than I expected. Funny.” Rory smiles. “So, what’s with this fake boyfriend trope? This is the second one with it.”

    “I like that trope.” I tilt my head.

    “Do you?” Something in the way he asks makes me look at him more closely.

    “I’m using it in the book I’m writing now. Why? Are you looking for a fake girlfriend?” I ask.

    “I think I am.” He bites his lip. “My client’s wife keeps hitting on me. At the last event, she copped a feel of my butt.”

    “That’s awful.”

    He frowns. “It is. I totally jumped. I wasn’t expecting the older wife of my client to be . . .” He shakes his head. “It’s fucking awkward. So, I’m thinking I need a girlfriend to protect me.”

    “Aren’t there any women currently in the running to be a real girlfriend?”

    “No.”

    “How is that possible?” I ask. We move up in the brunch line. We should be next. The smell of bacon frying is making me hungry.

    Rory just gives me his look of annoyance, which is one eyebrow cocked, head tilt and a slight shake of his head. “You of all people should understand. You never date. And there’s too much pressure now that we’re older. Marie was scoping me out as potential husband material. I liked her, but not enough. I just didn’t feel that connection.” Another couple enters the foyer. Rory and I move closer together to make space. I am practically on top of Rory.

    I look up. “That magical connection can be dangerous.” Rory is such a romantic.

    “Is that bad?” He gives me a lopsided grin.

    “Dangerously devastating if you lose that person.” Or he doesn’t “feel the same way.”

    “So, you’re not looking for a magical connection?” Rory asks, a crease in his forehead.

    “I’m not particularly looking.” I cross my arms.

    “But you’re writing a romantic comedy.”

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42517
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Homework 3

    Ah-hah Moment: “Something’s not working, so let me stand back and play it up against a few known methodologies. Let me shake out my brain, get fresh, consider options.”

    “Plump up your scenes from the smorgasbord of key characteristics of openings.”

    I also listened to one of Michael Hauge’s lectures about story structure where he used Shrek as the example and found it really helpful.

    Example D has Scene, Sexual Tension, and Character’s Thoughts and an implicit Question (why is he the one and what is he the one for? I hope to escape this repressive system).

    One of my favorite openings is Sophie Kinsella’s The Undomestic Goddess. It has voice and humor and action and shows how her character is in denial. I think it correlates mostly to Character’s Thoughts (but she is filling out a questionnaire for a massage (last year’s birthday present from her best friend) so there’s Action and a question is raised because you know the character  is in denial and needs to get a life):

    Would you consider yourself stressed?

    No. I’m not stressed.

    I’m . . .busy. Plenty of people are busy. I have a high-powered job, my career is important to me, and I enjoy it.

    Ok. So sometimes I do feel a bit tense. But I’m a lawyer in the City, for God’s sake. What do you expect?

    My handwriting is pressing so hard into the page, I’ve torn the paper. Dammit. Never mind. Let’s move on to the question.

    On average, how many hours do you spend in the in the office every day?

    14

    12

    8

    It depends. 

    Do you exercise regularly?

    I regularly go swimming.

    I occasionally go swim

    I am intending to begin a regular regime of swimming. When I have time. Work’s been busy lately. It’s a blip. 

     

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42417
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    LESSON TWO -Homework

     

    I just bought the Emotion Thesaurus and find it really helpful to add more emotion into my writing.

    1. For (A), the change is that she’s found what she’s seeking: an evil sorcerer, who’s chasing her with a big knife, so she’s at risk of dying.
    2. Emotions: Fear of extinction or mutilation or loss of autonomy. She’s already “been found out.” All fears, don’t see a core need.
    3. I love the sense of humor and the voice in this opening. Because of the sense of humor, she seems not quite so frightened and more take-charge. I found it interesting that there’s a parallel between the (A) and (B) examples: “You’d think that the worst that could happen to me was acute embarrassment and possible death.” And “Dying should have been the worst moment of my life.” So, both promising something worse than dying. And there are a lot of questions: why was she seeking him? Will she get away? And who’s going to stop a “three-thousand-year-old evil elven sorcerer?”

     

    For (C)

    • There’s an intruder, and “another ship here meant big trouble”
    • Emotions: Fear of Extinction and fear of mutilation (the descriptive references to the “bloodbats” and the “coils of black conduit snaked” made it seem like her “home” was already not that friendly/welcoming a place and seems to play to the fear of mutilation). And since I don’t like bats flying around my head or snakes, that gave me a squeamish feeling. Fears dominate.
    • I like the active protagonist and the voice “Damn, double damn.” She seems much more used to screeching, spiraling bats than me. Lol. I also liked the pacing and the use of description to convey emotion. And the opening immediately engages your interest because an intruder means big trouble.

    Ah-hah Moments: “Suss out the pertinent core emotions that can be launched at the story’s opening.”

    And I love: “Think of the beginnings as the strip-tease. The seduction. The come-hither.”

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42289
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    “7 Ways to Use Brain Science to Hook Readers” is amazing and has so many insights and seems like the roadmap to what you want to achieve with your first chapter. I know that I need to focus more on this: “unless those characters are actively engaged in solving a problem–making us wonder how they’ll get out of that one–we have no vested interest in them.” And being mean to my protagonist.

    Also, these three:

    “This means that the protagonist must react to everything that happens, so we understand how she’s making sense of it.”

    “We immediately need to know the protagonist’s agenda.”

    And the “eyes wide shut test” to see if I am being specific enough was a new tool.

    in reply to: DISCLAIMER AND INTRO – HOOK ‘EM DANO #42269
    kathy.strobos
    Participant

    Hi, I’m Kathy Strobos, I write women’s fiction/romantic comedy, and I currently live in Fire Island, New York. I think this is my fourth Linnea class  and one I’ve really been looking forward to.  I always learn so much in each class, and I think that it’s so hard to get the first 10-15 pages right. Looking forward to meeting everyone!

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