This 8 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

Last lines: Becca, out shopping, sees Lily, Lily’s husband Jason, child, and dog having a picnic.

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Since Becca was a little girl, she’d dreamed of her wedding—a fairyland of flowers and tulle, with her at the center in a designer gown. But each year passed and she couldn’t find the man she deserved, who wouldn’t demand a prenup, a sure sign he was planning to trade her in for a newer model down the road. And there Lily sat, happier than she had any right to be. Pain stabbed up Becca’s arm and she relaxed her fingers, revealing four red crescents indenting her palm.

Becca turned away and stomped to her car, bags bouncing against her legs as she walked.

Damn Lily for ruining my mood. She hadn’t thought about the debts she couldn’t pay, her lack of a love life, or her stupid job all afternoon. Now, she might as well give up and go home.

*   *   *   *   *   *

“Lily Wasn’t There” is a short story I can’t quite get right. I’m hoping the feedback from WeWriWa will help.

Becca’s life hasn’t gone how she planned. Stuck in an accounting job she despises, she scrapes by with a paycheck that doesn’t buy her half of what she deserves. She wants to find a man before she’s thirty, get married, and never work another day in her life. While at work, she people-watches, and one particular coworker is often the focus of her attention–Lily. Lily is everything Becca hates–buttoned-up, bland, and overly dedicated to her job–or so Becca thinks.

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About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

30 responses »

  1. Gemma Parkes says:

    Becca needs to soften up, she’s a scary, jealous character. Love the line about the indents in her hand! Great touch!

    • caitlinstern says:

      If you have long nails, beautifully manicured like Becca’s or not, you’re going to hurt yourself if you clench your hands like she did. It’s a sign of her simmering rage that she didn’t notice the pain right away. (Be afraid.) o.o

  2. Millie Burns says:

    Argh, Caitlin. I HATE Becca. I mean, I really despise her. Good job!

  3. historysleuth1 says:

    I love the way you created the Becca character. Makes me worry what she might do to Lilly. Good writing to make me feel that way.
    History Sleuth’s Milk Carton Murders

  4. S.J. Maylee says:

    Yikes. Lily doesn’t have the right to be happy. Becca is a bit scary isn’t she. I bet her character arch is fascinating. Well done.

    • caitlinstern says:

      As far as Becca’s concerned, Lily hasn’t worked nearly hard enough to have a husband. The fact that many people marry for something other than just looks doesn’t occur to her. (This never shows up in the story, but Becca’s mom was a second trophy wife–and her father’s on wife number five. Her childhood was pretty loveless, but that’s not something Becca dwells on.)

  5. Sarah W says:

    You know, the pre-nup thing says something about Becca’s self-esteem as well as her values . . . She really doesn’t think she has anything to offer a guy than youth, beauty, and fashion sense.

    (I completely forgot to sign up for WeWriWa, but my post is up, anyway, if you have the time)

    • caitlinstern says:

      Yeah, it’s a little sad, but she completely expects her future husband to want to leave her as soon as she wrinkles, or puts on weight, or hits her forties–that’s why she’s so desperate to find someone who *can’t* leave her without losing a lot of money, at least.

  6. You’ve done an excellent job with Becca, who’s very unlikable…she actually puts my teeth on edge every week now. Which is a compliment! Great snippet!

  7. Carrie-Anne says:

    My ex-“fiancé” was suspicious because I wanted a prenup too, and thought that was a sign I was secretly planning for or expecting a divorce. It’s just a common sense precaution these days. I hope Becca undergoes a lot of character growth, so she’s in a more mature state of mind to find the right man.

    • caitlinstern says:

      Logic doesn’t enter into Becca’s thought-process here. It makes sense to prepare for the worst, hope for the best–and can you imagine divorcing Becca without one? She’d favor a scorched-earth policy for sure.

  8. Sarah Cass says:

    Wow, Becca is so bitter! I hope she learns a lesson in this story!!

  9. This is gearing up to be a great suspense. I’m scared for Lily because Becca seems like she’s spiraling out of control with her unwarranted anger. great 8, you’ve sucked me in

  10. I don’t think Becca is capable of understanding another person.

  11. danitaminnis says:

    That Becca is a time bomb – love the red crescents. Great 8!

  12. Yes Becca go home. She definitely needs a nap, some yoga, healthy food and a huge amount of self love.

    • caitlinstern says:

      Becca eats healthy, and she might do yoga–she’s obsessed with her body, after all.

      She definitely needs some self-love, though. And maybe a hug. A nap couldn’t hurt. 🙂

  13. In a story-short or long-the heroine/hero needs a redeeming feature to make the reader care about her/him. A pet, kindness to a neighbor even briefly gives us hope for a change instead of disaster unless this is your plan. You write well. Please accept this comment in good faith as writer to writer with no pre-nup.

    • caitlinstern says:

      Actually, it ends in disaster. I always planned it to. (Does that make me a bad person?)

      Because the hero is actually Lily. Becca’s just the unreliable narrator. Like Nick in the Great Gatsby, with an extra helping of crazy.

  14. Becca is so vivid to me. The character we love to hate. I kinda feel bad for her though. She wants all these things, but doesn’t know how to get them. I feel like she had either a rough childhood or a very spoiled childhood. Great 8! I’m invested. 😀

    • caitlinstern says:

      Thanks, that’s exactly how I want you to feel.

      She is, in fact, the only child of a father working through a series of trophy wives. Her father would shove money, or a nanny/tutor/tennis instructor at her when she asked for attention. And her mother was only ever focused on getting a rich husband/boyfriend.

      Do you think I should go back and work some of that in the story? I didn’t want people to feel *too* sorry for Becca.

  15. Evelyn Jules says:

    You know, Caitlin, I think this story continues to get stronger every week. It seems like you’re really getting to know your characters and get inside their heads. Great work! 🙂

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