The Cosmos is All That Is or Was or Ever Will Be

I can procrastinate no more! At long last I have taken the plunge and begun my edits on Grove. Starting off nice and easy, after a find-and-replace, with changing the narrator from first-person present to third-person past. Here is the first paragraph of the prologue as it was:

Pickings were slim at the WareHouse employee orientation, and I could tell by the disengaged droop of Emily’s shoulders that she would have agreed with my assessment. Would have, that is, if we’d been able to exchange a single word during the eight-hour stream of safety regulations and clock-in procedures being crammed into our boredom-numbed skulls. The human resources room was blindingly white, blazing fluorescents and slick linoleum a sharp contrast to the gloomy gray warehouse outside the door.  How they expected anyone to retain information while sitting in a room roughly the temperature of Antarctica was beyond me.

And the entire prologue, as it is now:

Pickings were slim at the Tool Shed employee orientation, and Autumn could tell by the disengaged droop of Emily’s shoulders that her sister would have agreed with her assessment. Would have, that is, if they’d been able to exchange a single word during the eight-hour stream of safety regulations and clock-in procedures being crammed into their boredom-numbed skulls. The human resources room was blindingly white, blazing fluorescents and slick linoleum formed a sharp contrast to the gloomy gray warehouse outside the door.  How they expected anyone to retain information while sitting in a room roughly the temperature of Antarctica was beyond Autumn.

 At least we’re getting paid.

 Of the other six future Sales Associates fighting sleep five were guys, four were around Autumn and Emily’s  age, and only one of those four was not wearing a gold grill on his upper teeth. The remaining guy could have been decent-looking, but judging by the beanie pulled over his ears and the downward tilt to the corners of his eyes Autumn had a strong suspicion that he might be a fan of mind-altering substances. Not much potential for future summer lovin’ in this crowd.

It was a diverse group: the oldest was a thin wavy-haired man, with jug ears and a nervous way of ducking his head when he spoke. Ernesto, headed for Electrical. Youngest was Sierra: five freckled, gum-snapping feet of foul-mouthed attitude topped with a chemical-red mass of cornrows. Cashier.  Autumn found it a little bizarre to think that she would be Sierra’s supervisor in a matter of days. She half suspected Sierra might try to cut her. The decision-makers had earmarked Autumn for a Head Cashier position due to prior experience and her habit of wearing suits to job interviews, and Emily would be part-time Customer Service until she graduated in May. Then it was up to thirty-five hours a week like the rest of the suckers. The last three years of wage-slavery had taught Autumn that if they keep you under forty, they don’t have to give you medical insurance.

Not that she would have complained, after her failed launch into adulthood and nearly six months moping she was just glad to have a pressing reason to leave the house.  It was Emily who had it rough, graduating so young. She could have gone the junior college route, but she was too proud. Instead, she planned on working to save tuition and going to college once she hit the magical age of eighteen. Sometimes when Emily got especially fanciful Autumn was tempted to clue her in on exactly how un-magical it was to be a legal adult, but what is a big sister for if not to protect those fragile delusions?

What do you think? If you prefer the first-person present speak now or forever hold your peace!

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3 responses to “The Cosmos is All That Is or Was or Ever Will Be

  1. From the reading, I’d say first person feels better. I think it’s more intimate–like I can feel how sucky the orientation is. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in the exact same position and can relate to the narrator?

    • Yeah, I got to the fourth chapter making the edits before deciding I agree with you. My first instinct was the right one, this particular story works better with that immediacy and limited point of view. I’m glad to know you can feel the suckiness!

  2. In my humble opinion, (since I’m still stumbling through revision myself) it might be a good idea to add some more of the sensory impressions–the drone of the lecture, maybe she’s hungry, if her clothes are too tight–something like that, to get the reader more into her skin and give the scene and setting more immediacy.
    That might be easier to do in the first person narrative, but I think a close third person would benefit from this as well.
    Also, I LOVE the sarcastic inner dialogue (‘Not much potential for future summer lovin’…’) These show me so much about the main character and might work better in first person.
    So, that’s my two cents.

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