First problem: you're starting to drop commas in your excitement. Every red underscore in the following paragraph is a spot where a comma is necessary--necessary
, not a nice option like power windows.
"We have a very complicated security system for the art_ of course," he explained_ tracking my gaze. I nodded_ pretending I actually understood security systems. But I was still staring at the walls open mouthed_ admiring the works.
He gently asked, "Do you recognize some of them Sabrina?" I looked up at him and smiled. He wasn't that much taller than me_ about five feet eleven.
You can't assume that The Reader will just magically "get" what you're trying to say. When you edit--or preferably, when you first write--you should get into the habit of questioning each sentence and making sure it says what it's actually supposed to. Spelling is the difference between "warm lube on a strap-on" and "worm lube on a strap-on." Capitalization is the difference between "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse" and "I helped my uncle jack off a horse." Punctuation is the difference between "Let's eat, Grandma," and "Let's eat Grandma!" Just one
changed button press and the meaning
of each sentence shifts dramatically. Your story will wander down these garden paths as well if you don't take pains to prevent it from doing so. It is your
job to make the story understandable, not The Reader's to understand it.
The front room was modern in design and had a beautiful oak desk and drafting table. There was a state of the art IMAC and PC in the corner with every possible gadget I could imagine or want. That and the beautiful stereo equipment on the wall easily added up to thousands of dollars.
Why does Sabrina need both an iMac (note the capitalization) and
a PC? Especially given her talent in photography: Macs are the go-to computer of choice for the majority of professional media workers. PCs are the domain of computer gamers, whereas Mac got itself a reputation for being the best choice, and having the best software, for editing music, photos, film, etc. PCs are catching up, but Mac got itself enough die-hard fans during its dominance of the media industry that most of them are stick with Apple to this day.
This is the importance of a topic called "research." It's dangerous to simply throw out professional-sounding terms and hope to bamboozle The Reader, because at least one
of them actually is
a photographer and will complain, loudly and publicly, about the inaccuracy. (And I am not that person. I specialize in Pro Tools, not Photoshop. On a PC, incidentally, which is part of why I know I'm an exception to the rule.)
For that matter, a darkroom? In this age of digital photography, does anyone use that anymore?--besides, like, "art" photographers. And, for that matter, photography? That's an expensive hobby. What kind of camera does Sabrina own? And the laptop? How much money
does she get from this group home? It certainly didn't come from her inheritance, because the family friend bamboozled it. This gets away from "research" and into a topic called "logic". It's very pleasing to equip Sabrina with all the sort of luxuries you and I take for granted, but is it realistic
? Some readers will abandon you if you break from reality; none will if you hew to it. So making sure Sabrina only owns what a penniless orphan girl would actually own
is always a safer bet.
My full breasts were concealed under my black hooded sweatshirt.
I lifted up my t shirt and saw that my stomach had almost become concave with my ribs protruding.
Fat doesn't work that way. I don't even have
breasts (testicles get in the way of that) but I know that when you lose weight, it goes out of the breasts and buttocks before the stomach.
The shift in POV, from Sabrina's 1st-person narration ("I could hear...") to 3rd-person omniscient ("Paul felt Karen grab his dick, and Karen heard him groan"), is not only abrupt but totally unnecessary. This is a sex story: The Reader will accept that Paul and Karen will forget that they're in Sabrina's room and just start fucking with abandon, because that's what people do
in pr0n. (Of all the times for you to choose realism! *laughs*) Plus, having Sabrina react to them would allow you to characterize her further.
"Grrrrr..," she mocked, smiling.
This punctuation is incorrect. An ellipsis--otherwise known as a "dot-dot-dot"--requires three dots (as the name would seem to indicate) and should not be followed by a comma. If you're going to follow it with anything, it should actually be a period--ellipses actually function the way commas do. (With that in mind, you actually can
follow it with a comma, but if so you'd better know what you're doing.)
She had come to terms with his sexual likes and dislikes a while ago. She gasped when she saw the dungeon the first time with the canes and floggers.
Ohhh, Fifty Shades of Grey
fanfic. Well, at least you made Paul likeable, instead of being a sociopathic, emotionally- and physically-abusive rapist.
In an instant, he had his back to the patio doors and forced his hands on my chin grabbing my face and pushing me towards his crotch as he unzipped his pants.
Okay, so... he's got two hands on her chin, and a... third
hand on his pants? I'm confused. Most people don't have three hands, and Sabrina never mentioned this presumably-unusual sight in her narration. Or is it like an Alton Brown cooking video where he just has these random helpers throwing things at him?
As to this whole scene itself... I'll be honest, I don't care. You haven't made Sabrina very interesting as a person. Her situation
is interesting... a little... but not much, and Sabrina herself is very passive, sitting around letting the story happen to her. Characters are defined by what they do
, not by what was done to
them; one need only contrast the two orphans Harry Potter and Tom Riddle to see this laid out in detail. Right now, Sabrina has done nothing for something like five Lit-pages. Were I reading for fun instead of work, I'd have hit [Back] a long
"You o.k.?" He asked sweetly.
And here is the same "okay" misspelling I told you to correct on your first chapter. Why am I spending time and effort to help you improve, with no benefit to me, if you're going to ignore me? o_O
I didn't realize that Paul chewed Karen out later for buying me the vibrator.
If you're going to insist on having sections narrated in 3rd-person concerning Paul & Karen's sex life, this transition is much
more graceful. It starts off with what could be Karen telling the story of her adventures to
Sabrina, and then transitions into a genuine segue.
And finally we get to Jenna's arrival, and all I have to say is that I'm still bored. This story is entitled Sabrina's Education
, and as such I have this weird belief (correct me if I'm wrong) that it's going to revolve around Sabrina's education. That plotline still has not started yet
, despite your having spent some 25,000 to 30,00 words already.
The problem here is pacing and timing. There's a moment when the story starts and a moment when the story begins
. Typically, the start point is a little earlier than the beginning point; the story of Batman, for instance, starts when he's eight years old and he sees his parents slain senselessly in front of him, even though Batman doesn't begin
until he's a grown man. Your problem is that you assume the story must be told in chronological order: if the story starts with the Wayne slayings, then those must come first, and then The Reader is just going to have to sit there for 16 years of Bruce's life until he finally puts on the cowl. Watch Batman Begins
again and see how the movie doesn't
run it that way at all: it starts "in media res
," as it's called, which is Latin for "in the middle of the story". First we see how the story begins, and then
see its start through flashback and other techniques. This is called "back story" and it's a very useful way of avoiding chapters where nothing happens.
It's also a technique that allows you to generate interest. It's like a mini mystery story. Who's this Bruce Wayne guy? How did he get here? If he's a billionaire inheritee, why is he in jail beating up criminals? The Reader will become interested in mysteries and keep reading in order to find out the answers. Witness Nick Scipio's work Summer Camp
: his story starts out with the narrator character, coincidentally also named Paul, being told by his wife that a family friend has died; "She was so young," she muses. The entire rest of the story--over a hundred chapters, millions
of words--is an extended flashback to Paul's coming of age and eventual marriage. We want to know what happens to him... but, as we get wrapped up in the characters around him, we also
want to know who The Wife is, and who died. By the simple expedient of withholding two names from his opening excerpt, Scipio has created a trifold mystery that has kept people coming back for years--literally, since he's only published three chapters this decade.
Here's how you've told the story so far:
- Sabrina being chosen to live with Mr. Smith.
- Extended flashback to Sabrina's life in the group home.
- Sabrina moving into the mansion, including the revelation of Paul's kinks.
- Sabrina is bored at the mansion.
- Sabrina being sexually harassed by Shane, leading to Jenna moving in.
Here's how you should
tell the story:
- Sabrina moving into the mansion.
- Short flashback to being chosen to live with Mr. Smith.
- Sabrina is bored at the mansion.
- Sabrina distracts herself by remembering life at the group home, including short sexual escapades with Jenna. These flashbacks seem organic because Sabrina has in-universe reasons to be dwelling on these things.
- Sabrina is sexually harassed by Shane, leading to Jenna moving in.
- Even better: Sabrina wakes Jenna up in the middle of the night and they go exploring (or vice versa; Jenna seems to be the more active of the two). They find Paul's dungeon.
All this, it should be pointed out, can be easily done within one chapter of perhaps four Lit pages, about 10,000 words.
So, my advice to you is to stop wasting time. Your story is incredibly puffy right now, at least twice as long as it needs to be. Work on making things happen faster. You can do it.