|Read this copy through twice carefully and though I think it requires some suggestions I am not qualified to critique this because it's a little out of my genre.
However, being the opinionated gremlin that I can be, I will nonetheless offer some thoughts.
Overall, I find the sample compelling.
It is written well and it is interesting.
However, I do find it "see-sawing" between a romantic pulp paperback tale and something really good by Margaret Mitchell or Emily Bronte. This is my dilemma.
There are moments in the writing where it is sparkling and could be easily compared to Mitchell and Bronte's finest. And that is where I believe the possibility of influence may have originated. Ok, it is not the time period or subject that either female author wrote about -- but that is where April Desiree has her opportunity and this subject is an ideal choice.
There are scatterlings of dialogue and word choices that chop away at its authenticity and render it -- not often -- into a more paperback, movie of the week type tale.
But, I am not convinced this story is destined for that.
First of all, much of the dialogue is actually rich.
I like the banter between characters and it flows in a manner that keeps the reader interested throughout.
We must remember that this is basically the Victorian era. Turn of the Century. There is a style to their speech whether poor or priviledged. The descriptive comments are wonderful. Some could be embellished. This entire woman's movement was not as calm and collected as some accounts may have described. Just like today, some knew how to protest and get attention, others were trouble makers.
The beginning paragraphs are all well written and the "charcaterizations" are also nicely described down to the twitch in a moustache.
April has a command of dialogue early on and may even have a talent for writing screenplays or teleplays to existing stories written by others.
The tone is good, the flow keeps it intriguing. I could "hear" their individual voices clearly. The conflict was set up early. I believe Joan needs to be developed just a little edgier and harder. She needs to be even more stern in her choice of words. Her distaste must be more Victorian. I am not sure the word "honey" -- in reference to a woman -- was used often in this era.
The dialogue between the two women seems a little too gossipy, whereas I was beginning to believe one was strong of character and not given to such whimsical talk. There is stern talk mixed with whimsical and maybe that should be toned down a little.
"Oh, God," Nora groaned.
"What is it?"
"Mrs. Duvall." Nora quickly pointed her finger in the direction of her future mother-in-law,
and Joan's eyes followed. She turned back to Nora with her eyes wide.
"What are you going to tell Jackson?"
"I have no idea."
When she noticed her future mother-in-law and Nora groaned having seen her -- would she turn her face away not to be seen? Shouldn't she being doing something to support her exclamation at seeing this woman? An action of some type? Speaking under breath, pulling a scarf across her face? turning away, walking away in another direction as to not be detected? A mention of what kind of face Nora would be wearing as she saw this woman. A frown? Cowel? Squint of the eye? An angered detestable face?
Dialogue that followed the asterisks ***** was excellent.
This is Mitchell-Bronte quality. I may add, that even the dialogue of the elders in the Shelly novel Frankenstein was dialogue that was tight, proper for its time. Especially when the Baron was speaking. There are moments here of awkwardness that need to be polished into that type of exchange.
The basis is here it just needs to be fleshed out. A little more tension needs to be added between the speakers because it feels like there is a conflict under the surface that has not come out yet. The clock's pendulum is excellent to parallel this tension. The sound of the clock should sound louder than usual and have her say so -- to herself. The problems that should not carry over into the marriage should be developed further. It may not be part of the suffrage issue but it is very pertinent to their relationship.
Now there is a little paperback romantic pulp: "The sun became shy and hid behind a few clouds...." -- Nah. This is not in keeping with the quality of everything that came before it. It's cliche. You can still use it, just get creative. "The sun was like a shy child and hid behind the gray feathered skirt of the clouds....."
Again, some words that may not be in keeping with Victorian times: "A shudder came over her at the thought. Slaps across the face met with profanities and cursing the day she was born came crashing into her mind."
The word "crashing" -- I think something a little more with mental acuteness. "....came vividly into her mind." "....came harshly and penetrated her mind." Crashing just sounds too -- modern.
This next line starts off very traditional Victorian but then there is a phrase that will disturb the observant reader: "Father proved he was worth his salt as a parent, catering to their needs in his own way. He wasn't the touchy-feely sort of man, as few were."
The words "worth his salt," is excellent. "Catering to their needs," is wonderful.
BUT, the "touchy-feely" is modern day slang/ jargon and not of the era you are writing about. No one spoke this way in the turn of the century. You may have to resort to something more traditional. "He wasn't a man who showed his emotions or displayed any outward signs of affection." This could be it.
The strict form of description of that era. Suggesting -- but never really saying it. As another example unrelated to your story: In those days also, you didn't say you were going to pee. It was "going to relieve oneself," or "pass water". You had a bowel movement. They weren't crass.
To give the story authenticity, some dialogue or description must adhere to the era. Your story is so good -- that it deserves the added care of that type of detail.You don't want a real critic saying the dialogue wasn't true of its time. I realize many movies today are making that error. The Spartans did not say "okay." Cowboys didn't walk into a bar and say "what's up?" to patrons.
The rest of the story continues in a very dignified writing style. Still lots to appreciate.
The confrontational dilaogue is excellent but it does need a little description of what they are doing as they verbally battle.
Example: "Nora picked up a fan and opened and closed it nervously and quickly several times as she spoke and then as he answered her, she tossed the fan down hard on the vanity in a heap...."
More little scenes like this to add to her anger.
I need to know where she is standing, how she looking, what she is doing. Is she pacing back and forth like Jean Harlow or standing her ground like a Marilyn Monroe? Is she being spiteful in her anger like a Scarlet O'Hara or arguing dignified like a Joan Crawford? Your dialogue is rich and adding little asides to what the characters are doing as they discuss their views will make the scene more colorful and vivid.
Stopping in the middle of the parlor, his eyes shot up to hers. "Then this will not work."
"Whatever do you mean?"
Add after her statement: Nora said suddenly and loudly as she shook her hair and turned toward him and folded her arms across her chest with authority. Standing in disbelief she shouted again -- "Whatever do you mean, I said?"
I just believe this gives her a little more strenght and aggressiveness.
This exchange is gold. You just need to add some background to what is going on around them as they spar. If she is walking around the room as she is spewing these words you could add things like "as she passed, the candle on the table wavered back and forth quickly almost as if it too wanted to escape Nora's wrath."
More: "Forgive me, I didn't know what I was doing. Forgive me, for I have acted wrongly. Oh, would you forgive me?"
I don't disagree with his change of heart and being apologetic but I don't see this guy dropping to his knees and cowling around her feet. This changes his character from what I thought was a strong willed man to a wimp. If he must appear weak, just turn him into a hen pecked mama's boy who would plead....but not wimper.
"Get up, you fool," she snapped.
If he remains at her feet, here you can describe her vain attempts to walk away from him with him hanging on, or a more stronger scene where she steps back and actually gently kicks him away with force.
He can continue to be a wimp but you are playing out a scene that would look far better in a motion picture if he became -- confused. Even a bit surprised at her determination and resolve. You need visuals. Her dialogue is great but he is not playing up to her dialogue to make the scene stronger and this part of the story deserves a strong scene of dialogue between two stubborn people who DO love each other. Even if he wimps out, his words must be more sincere and desperate.
But be careful with this type of scene because while some women could get away with being tough and contemptuous -- a young woman trying to follow in their footsteps in regular 1910 society would be reprimanded quickly. It was a tough movement that had peaks and valleys. These were the times. Women had their place and in proper society, unfortunately, they had to tred carefully.
So what am I saying?
You must write her dialogue with an air of care and caution. She can be strong but she also has to have some fear of being heard by the wrong parties. She must exhibit a little concern for her safety. It's the same type of concern the the political activists in Russia had during the Bolshevik Revolution. Dr Zhivago was a tough cookie but he had to be careful what he said and when he said it. You must exhbit also -- careful, discreet dialogue between characters. This is a different conflict. A parallel one to her romantic conflict.
She can belittle this man, but she won't want to say too much about her involvement with the movement for fear he may say something to someone who disapproves....even unintentionally.
I am not certain if the suffragate movement was violent as the one that Carrie Nation led to stimulate prohibition. But, I know the rights of women really came to a head when those women in NYC were all killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory tragedy in 1910. Not sure how it played a role, but maybe somewhere in your story -- mentioning this tragedy could give it additional weight.
I found the tale interesting and I think you have created a great little period piece of a story. I am assuming it didn't just end with this sample. There must be more to come?
The dialogue is what shined best.
You have a talent for that. Many people don't realize how difficult it is to write compelling consistent dialogue, believable dialogue. I can hear it in motion pictures & plays I watch -- whether the story was written well.
"The Shootist," with John Wayne is brilliant because the story is filled with colorful dialogue of the era. Right down to the "Sunday go-to-meeting" clothes. "A RIver Runs Through It," also has brilliant dialogue. "Field of Dreams," has great dialogue. "Anything by Tennessee Williams is excellent when it comes to dialogue, Steinbeck and Hemingway. These authors labored over this. "To Kill A Mockingbird" is filled with brilliant dialogue.
I think your tale is destined for a film with great dialogue and if so -- don't give up your right to approval on the dialogue.
That is your forte. I would go as far as to say that if I wrote a story and needed someone to add dialogue to a script based on my story -- you could be trusted. You're that good.
Anyway, my apologies if my suggestions didn't meet with your approval but I want to be honest.
You are a good interesting writer....that's for certain. It was a great read and I was pleasantly surprised.