• Change Me – fun extract

    Posted by Emma Mckay on 13 November 2023 at 10:24

    Hi everyone,

    Posting something more light-hearted from my WIP this week. I’m a bit jet-lagged and trying to edit this scene. Would be grateful for comments about the appropriateness of the brackets or not – I never know if/when to use them…

    Many thanks, in advance, if you read.

    Title: Change Me

    Genre: Commercial Women’s fiction, set over a 2-day motivational conference on Change, led by TK, a self-help guru from LA, where everything that can go wrong does. The story is told from the POV of Lauren, the event organiser, a young woman for whom this is a major career opportunity (if successful)

    This scene: Mid-morning on the second day. Brad, one of TK’s party, decided late yesterday to offer a yoga class – another hassle for Lauren to deal with. Ruby is Lauren’s (temporary) assistant.

    Fuck! The yoga. When Ruby does a mock double-take, Lauren realises she must have sworn out loud.

    “That’s what I came here out to do. I need to find Brad and work out what he’s got planned.”

    “Oh, I think it’s all sorted. He’s got mats for forty but doesn’t mind people sharing. The more the merrier, apparently. He’s using two rooms down there.” Ruby points to a corridor off to their left that, so far, they have not had access to. “And he’s made a sign.”

    A billboard stands in front of the desk. Unbelievable she didn’t spot it as soon as she left the Great Hall; she needs to stop getting distracted by her phone. She walks round to read it. In green felt-tip Brad has scrawled the following message:

    Let’s welcome the power of sunlight into our lives!

    Feel its energy awaken a conscious connection between your heart and body, anchoring your spiritual wisdom and enabling you to support each other on your journey towards change


    The Winston/Chamberlain Suite

    All welcome!

    Love Brad xxx

    Okaaay. Firstly, a handwritten notice is unprofessional (he could at least have found a blue pen, to fit with the colour scheme). Secondly, it’s November, so there’s not much sunlight to let into anyone’s life (although he has drawn a sun in the top right-hand corner – a childish circle with lines radiating outwards). Thirdly, not ‘All welcome!’ as they only have forty mats and people sharing is a ridiculous idea. And finally, ‘Love Brad xxx’, is completely inappropriate.

    Ruby grins at her expression. “He was telling me he transmits the sun’s energy and turns it into positive vibes. I mean, he’s completely out there, but kind of in an ok way. There are a lot of people desperate to attend his session.”

    Emma Mckay replied 1 week, 5 days ago 8 Members · 13 Replies
  • 13 Replies
  • cds cds

    13 November 2023 at 10:48

    Hey! Already I love Brad. 😉

    Ok – here’s my take on the stuff in the brackets. Keep the sentiment but rejig a bit to show her contempt and exasperation even more. Here’s how I might start that same section off: (sorry I don’t know how to describe what I’m thinking):

    Oh god, a hand written note, seriously? Does he even realise how unprofessional that looks? He could at least have found a blue pen that matched the colour scheme. And has he even noticed it’s November? How much sunlight does he think there is?…. etc etc with the rest.

    • Emma Mckay

      13 November 2023 at 11:11

      Thank you! Really useful

  • Joanna Neville

    13 November 2023 at 11:55

    Hi Emma

    Enjoyed reading this – flows really well. Love Lauren’s exasperation at trying to control a hippy guru/charlatan type. Get a good sense of her character.

    Absolutely love the contrast of the energy channelling yoga with the Winston/Chamberlain suites – that really made me laugh.

    I didn’t get as strong a feel for Ruby’s character. Maybe this comes out more in other bits of the novel but I wasn’t sure if she was mocking Brad or on his side. In tune with Lauren or not? Maybe this could be clearer.

    Liked it and made me want to read more.

    Best wishes


    • Emma Mckay

      14 November 2023 at 07:53

      Thanks Jo. Hopefully Ruby’s character has come through earlier. She’s very sceptical of TK but warms throughout the weekend to members of his entourage (which is important for my ending!)

  • Marcus Brewster

    13 November 2023 at 12:10

    Hey Emma – you may be overthinking the brackets. I read the whole piece and then had to go back to try and work out what/where the issue was as I really hadn’t noticed them on a first read.

    Looking at them now, one possible construction would be to render them as thought and the pre-bracket part as speech. That might work if Ruby is an intern and Lauren’s trying to teach her what’s what. Then you’re left with a hard fact – the learning – followed by a slightly bitchy interiority and the reason why it’s not verbalised – Lauren’s trying to lead by example and show Ruby how to act professionally.

    That may not work wrt the relationship you envisaged for them but it’s a possible work-around.

    That all said, a fun scene where we become aware of the piling on of pressure. Two boxes ticked in 250 words – result!

    • Emma Mckay

      14 November 2023 at 07:54

      Thanks Marcus. You’re right – I may be overthinking it (easier than pushing on to write new bits!). I think I’ll try cds cds’s suggestion and see how they compare.

  • Jane Morley

    13 November 2023 at 12:44

    Hi Emma,
    I’m with cds on Brad – sounds great! The perfect freewheeling complication to Lauren’s already complicated weekend.
    Love the handwritten note and the fact he’s obviously getting plenty of takers!
    I assumed the brackets were her thoughts and the preceding bits were her speech? (as per Marcus’s comment. ) But now I notice that you haven’t put speech marks so perhaps not?
    Whatever the punctuation, I enjoyed the scene. Best, Jane

    • Emma Mckay

      14 November 2023 at 07:55

      Thanks Jane – he’s very good looking and has a celebrity following back in LA! A fun character to throw in the mix.

  • James Rohan

    14 November 2023 at 05:41

    I am not seeing any brackets. Or, if I am, that’s not what I call them.

    • Emma Mckay

      14 November 2023 at 07:56

      Ok thanks James. As long as they don’t stand out as awkward I guess that means they work?

  • Harry Bingham

    14 November 2023 at 12:32

    This is good, Emma. I think I personally would want slightly greater character depth – a bit less chick litty, a bit less surface. But I am definitely not your audience and I’m happy to be shouted down. This feels like a digital-first novel, but I could see it doing well in ebook. The scene itself is perfectly coherent as it stands. It doesn’t need much editing unless you do decide to work on the characters more … which would change the kind of book you’re dealing with.

  • Cynthia MacFarlane

    17 November 2023 at 01:28

    Hi Emma, this is a great piece! I like Brad as a character even though I know I wouldn’t want to spend 5 minutes in a row with him 🙂 . I think you give just the right amount of info about his intentions, and Lauren’s reactions, to convey just the kind of new-agey guy that he is. And I really like how we get a slightly different perspective here on Lauren. We’ve seen her as more self-doubting in other excerpts, and here we get to see her firm in her convictions around what she does and doesn’t like, and we also see her being really quick to accurately suss out a situation (e.g. he’s wants everyone to come when the room isn’t big enough? Lauren picks right up on that). It’s a great contrast to how we’ve seen her before.

    I didn’t find the brackets at all distracting and I think they could work, but I prefer cds’ suggestion as well – put them in italics to really emphasize the interiority.

    Looking forward to more Lauren and even more Brad! Best, Cynthia

    • Emma Mckay

      17 November 2023 at 07:54

      Thanks Cynthia!

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