Six Sentence Sunday – 1/22/12

Today is #sixsunday where writers share six sentences from their work. I’ll share a snippet from my time-travel romance WIP tentatively title Must Love Breeches. I currently have this out to Beta readers for feedback and hope to be in a position to query for agents by March. Here’s my working query hook for it: Isabelle Rochon has met the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem: he lives in a different century.  (You can see the other entries here.)

I’m going to try something new and share something I just added to see if it flows right. Setup: Lord Montagu, the love interest from the 19th century, has come to call on the heroine (from our present time). This is in her POV. I just revised this bit this past week — the original just had the first and second lines. I thought I’d try to explain what the meaning of the bow seemed like to her and I’m not sure if I have the beats down right.

He executed a neat bow.

A folklorist should document his bows — the man expressed different degrees of meaning with each. Like this one, which seemed to say, “I’d like to jump your bones.” Well, he’d probably phrase it as, “I lust for you.”

Um, yeah, no. Who was she kidding?

I’d love constructive feedback as to whether this flowed smoothly and if it gave you a chuckle? EDIT: The consensus seems to be that the last line kinda fails. Any suggestions on how to reword that so it gets across that she’d just made all that up and read too much into it? Okay, changing last line to:

Um, yeah, no. Probably more like, “Good afternoon.”

To see snippets from others who are participating or to sign up yourself, visit here. And this week’s other time travel snippets are: Tarah Scott and Ginger Simpson.

Thank you to everyone who comes by and comments each week! Have a great Sunday!

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54 Comments

  1. Heather Thurmeier

     /  January 22, 2012

    Seems pretty clearly written to me. Well done!

    Reply
  2. The funny potention is definitely there, but I found the flow a bit awkward. Possibly do to the typo here: Like *the* one to her seemed to say…

    Should it be “Like *this* one…” which would refer to the neat bow he just executed.

    or

    “Like *the* one *that*…” which would refer to another that suggested he’d had lusty intentions.

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  3. Wow, he’s pretty talented with those bows!

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  4. Neat idea, expressing different meaning with his bows.

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  5. Ruthie

     /  January 22, 2012

    I like the humor, but I think you’re right, it still caught me a few times. I’d put in a paragraph break before her thought, and try to get her internal thought more casual. “A folklorist should document his bows — they were like a language. Every one seemed to say something different.”

    And I agree, “the one” doesn’t work. I expected “this one.” “Like this one, which seemed to say, …”

    But it’s definitely on the right track! I love the idea of bowing as a language she’s trying to figure out how to read — and the hilarious contrast between how she imagines what he means and how she thinks HE would phrase it. So cute.

    Reply
    • I think you’re right, will work on making her internal thought more casual, but meanwhile, I went ahead and changed the rest with your suggestions (I hope that’s not cheating)

      Reply
      • Ruthie

         /  January 22, 2012

        There’s no cheating in Six Sentence Sunday. At least, not like that. ;)

  6. Agree with the others. I was confused as to exactly what bow she was referring in that line. And for some reason, the last line also caught me up. I’m not certain what she means here. Meaning, does she assume he couldn’t possibly lust after her? But…we’re only allowed six sentences in these. I’m sure the surrounding text would have clued me in. Otherwise, I think it’s a very neat idea. Makes him very unique and I’d keep reading just to see what else he has in store for her.

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  7. It made me chuckle. Usually internal thoughts pull me out of the story but this one didn’t. Good job.

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  8. LOL The secret language of bows. Love it. I also really like the hook you came up with for this story. Good luck querying!

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  9. I guess you changed the line, because I’m reading it as “Like this one,” which makes perfect sense. The sentence that made me re-read was the last one. Not sure what she’s saying. But a language of bows is fascinating, especially if you described their little variations.

    I also wondered about the “different degrees of meaning.” Is it really degrees of meaning or just different meanings? Food for thought.

    And great six, BTW. I’d like to know what he’s really saying with that bow! LOL

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  10. I like the way you wrote it. Seems very in keeping with someone talking to themselves while watching the actions of another.

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  11. Love the humor here. The last line didn’t quite work for me because I wasn’t sure if she was referring to the lust, the bow or if she just found him laughable. Then again, its only six lines and I’m sure the rest of the scene would have clarified things.

    Reply
  12. The last line seems to imply that she believes his lust to be wishful thinking on her part—although from what I’ve read, who could blame her? :)

    Reply
  13. Love the humor from past to present. I think you received some great advice on how to help the flow, too. So I won’t repeat what you’ve already heard. i love the tagline of this story! :-) So much fun!

    Reply
  14. I love this internal dialogue; great humor. It’s a great way to bring through the voices of the characters.

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  15. I like the flow. A few adjustments like Ruthie suggests are all you need. The story is compelling and the humor in her internal thoughts comes through nicely and adds a great touch.

    Reply
  16. I thought the middle addition was great. The last line snagged me a little, but I blame the kids circling me more than I do your line, LOL.

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  17. I love her interpretation, l’m guessing she got it right!

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  18. I absolutely *adore* the significance of the bows. I love the explanation. And I love her response to it–the modern clashing with the past. Excellent, Angela!

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  19. Nicely done, Angela. Very unique. My one suggestion is your transition from his bow to her inner monologue. Transitions into inner monologue must slip into first person mode without the reader being aware of the change in POV. The trick is to go from what the character is observing–in this case, his bow– to something only they are experiencing, heart rate, private laughter, a quiver in the belly, you get the idea.

    Thanks so much for the linkback!

    Reply
  20. I like the idea that his thoughts and feelings are expressed with an object that’s important to him! And he sounds pretty intriguing!

    Reply
    • At first I was confused by your comment, and then I realized that ‘bow’ has two interpretations, LOL! In this case he’d just bowed to her and Ada Byron…

      Reply
  21. Love this six. The heroine really pops. I was thrown by the last line somewhat – it seemed to dilute the strength of the previous five lines but the humor was very nicely conveyed.

    Reply
    • Thanks!

      Hmm, everyone’s seeming to not like that last sentence. Should I delete it and stick with just “Um, yeah, no.” — would that get across that she’d been reading way too much into it?

      Reply
  22. I stumbled over the “folklorist” line. I think if I’d been reading along in the full novel, I’d have been fine though. I’m definitely engaged in this story, no worries there!

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  23. Yep, this is such a fun snippet. It is a little awkward, but I like where you’re heading. I liked Ruthie’s suggestion. Mostly, if you can get the point across in less words, it’ll keep the pace going and not feel like such a long pause there. I was also confused about the last line. Didn’t get what she was referring to. Thanks for clarifying. I so love this story.

    Reply
  24. I also read the word ‘bows’ differently to start with, but I do like the two interpretations of what his bow meant.

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    • Yeah, I think the sentence right before this snippet helps make the meaning of ‘bow’ clear in context. He’d just come into the room and said both their names and then he bows…

      Reply
  25. For six sentences, it seems pretty clear. I’m sure if we read before an after, it would give us a better context. :)

    Great six! Made me giggle. :)

    Reply
  26. Nice use of body language and awareness of it.

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  27. I love the idea of dissecting the body language of a different era. I have a slightly different take on how this may or may not work (just my opinion–your mileage may vary). I think “He executed a neat bow.” doesn’t describe the bow enough to justify the meditation that follows. E.g. in Japan even now bowing goes from total prostration (which I think only is offered to the Emperor) to an almost cursory bob to convey the idea, “I have to bow because it’s what one does, but I don’t respect you at all, and you’re too uncultured to even realize it.” Okay, and the last 2 lines were confusing. “Um, yeah, no.” needs more translation for me and “Who was she kidding?” seems like she meant something along the lines of: “She might be wrong about what that bow meant. The more she thought about it, the less she was sure she understood. etc.” So I’m disagreeing with those who say fewer words work better…but that could just be me.

    Reply
  28. I like your concept too, and the situation’s humor was clear. Reading through the comments was a lesson in writing techniques in itself. I believe I agree with Lynne when she says “less isn’t always more.” I too would like to see the detailing of the bow which is the pivotal point of the humor.

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  29. -grins- I liked the concept too, and it gave me a chuckle. Both of the last lines you’re debating between work for me. Probably as the six stands now, go with the new one. However, I’m not sure the stumbling lies in the last line? I agree with Gem above, I’d like to see the bow. It doesn’t even have to be a long description, but ‘neat’ doesn’t say anything about the bow? Maybe even a word change there would make the the whole image clearer. I loved it either way, I love watching how body language is used in writing and how various characters interpret each movement.

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  30. I actually really like it. :) Trying to discern a man’s motives by his body language is always fun! And yes, the amended last line is better!

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  31. So I’m coming to the party a little late. Know what I love about this post and the comments? All of the feedback and interplay between you and everyone else. What a powerful tool to becoming a better writer! I know that this is one of the ideas behind SSS, but it rarely happens–people are generally so polite and supportive (which is not a bad thing, just don’t know how helpful it is). Thank you for modeling this!

    Reply
    • Aaw thank you! I wasn’t sure if it was allowed but I thought I’d give it a shot. I knew the timing was off with the sentences but wasn’t sure why.

      Reply
  32. I’m not sure how important this bow thing is to your storyline–if it’s just a quirky thing to liven up a scene, you might want to leave it as is–I do agree the edited last line works better. If it’s important, I’d try to give the reader more details of the bow, as she sees it, in order to go into deep POV and let the reader surmise the “lustiness” of the bow together with the heroine–then, when she “admits” she’s imagining things, it’ll be both surprising and funny for the reader. Just my take; hope it helps in some way.

    Reply
  33. I liked her description of the bows. However the last line does jerk me out of the story a little. “Um, yeah. Probably more like..” Is better. The “Um, yeah, no.” Sounds like someone who can’t make up her mind. Intriguing six. :)

    Reply
  34. Wow, you’ve received a lot of feedback! I’m chiming in late but I like the change you made to the last line. Happy writing! :)

    Reply
  35. Monica Enderle Pierce

     /  January 22, 2012

    I had to read this a few times before I got a bead on what may be the issue. The tone of her thought is formal, whereas her dialogue is very casual. You might consider bringing the two ‘voices’ closer in sync. Hope that helps, Angela!

    Reply
  36. I liked the first instance itself – and would love to see how you develop it further so it plays on the ‘who was she kidding?’ line.

    But yes, I definitely got a chuckle, and her ‘modern’ mindset came through nicely in this :)

    Reply
  37. I like how you showed the changes in your six sentences! I’m in agreement. I like the second version a hair better. Have a great day!

    Reply
  38. Awesome way to get some constructive criticism. I definitely love being in her head in this scene, but I do think the revised last line reads clearer. Great six!

    Reply
  39. I love that he speaks through bows. Very old worldy.

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  40. (giggles) Loved it!

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  41. I think the change works, though I didn’t have any trouble with the original! :)

    Reply
  42. I like the um’s and the yeah’s to start, but I also link these two lines together:
    Who was she kidding? Probably more like, “Good afternoon.”
    All of it is fun. Love the hook, the last word grabs my attention for sure.
    My the query gods swing in your favor.

    Reply
  1. Six Sentence Sunday – 1/29/12 « Angela Quarles

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