The only thing worse than doing a job you don’t like, is getting fired while doing it. After I learned this just one hour ago, I tried to hold my tears until I left the building. But as soon as the door hit me in the ass, I opened the floodgates and kept crying all the way home so that I now look like something out of The Walking Dead. Relieved to be finally home, I put my key in the lock and push the wooden dented door open with my shoulder.
“Surprise!” Jules jumps up from behind the kitchen counter in our shared house, wearing a little paper party hat and holding two glasses of champagne.
I drop my bag on the floor and kick off my high heels. “What is all of this? What are we celebrating?”
“Come on, Lexie. You just bought a house. I’m so proud of you. Although I’ll really miss having you as a roommate. Look at you. You are all grown-up now.”
I laugh. “Sure. Grown-up and jobless.”
She puts the glasses down. “What do you mean jobless? That phone call from before… Where you told me we couldn’t talk because you were getting fired?”
I look at her, waiting for her to let it all sink in.
“You weren’t actually being fired when I called, were you?”
I nod and pull up a chair. “I’m afraid so. For once I wasn’t joking.”
Jules immediately takes off her party hat and hands me a glass of champagne while sitting down as well. I gulp down the entire glass in one go. Okay, so it’s not champagne. Cheap wine. But it’ll do the trick.
“Oh, girl. I thought you were kidding. Who picks up their phone when they are being fired?”
She suddenly jumps in her chair and puts a hand over her mouth. “What did your mother say?”
I give her a stern look. “Do not—I repeat—do not tell my mother. She can’t know.” I take my phone out of my bag and show Jules a picture Mum sent me earlier. She’s standing next to a cake that has ‘Congratulations, Lexie’ written all over it in chocolate and that’s surrounded by wool balls.
She pulls a face. “What is that?”
“That is my mother at her knitting club. Celebrating me buying a house.”
“Uh oh, it’s going to be hard keeping this a secret from her.”
I shrug. “Maybe. It’s not like she visits me at work or anything. I’m sure it’ll be okay. I’ll tell her I switched jobs once I find something new.”
“If you don’t want to end up on the street like a stray cat, you can always work as a barista. The coffee shop at the corner is still hiring. Can you believe it? I don’t think I’ve had my coffee served to me by the same girl more than once over the last couple of months. I wonder what is up with that place that no one works there longer than a month.”
“All day long in that coffee smell while serving rude costumers who are running to jobs that you would choose any day over serving coffee? Who wouldn’t get depressed working there?” I sit down on the couch and put my feet up. “I want to find a job that I actually like. Let’s face it, working at California Network was nice since it paid so well and I hardly had to, you know, work. But maybe it’s time for me to actually make a career. I just don’t have a clue about what I want to do.”
“Wait here.” Jules runs to her room and I hear her fiddling with some papers. She comes back wearing her big black glasses and holding a stack of papers. “Don’t worry, Lexie. I’m going to find you your dream job. Consider me your personal counselor.”
I cross my legs. “Sure, why not. I’ve got nothing to lose.”
“Okay, here goes. Do you like children?”
“Like them, as in, want them? Maybe, some day, but I haven’t given it a lot of thought yet. I would first have to find a boyfriend and I don’t want to have kids with someone, like, right away. Also I don’t–”
Jules cuts me short. “Like them, as in, would you want to be confronted with them professionally? On a daily basis?”
“No. And I don’t want to work with dogs either. They produce too much saliva.”
She writes something down. “Okay, so that rules out working with old people as well. You should see the amounts of saliva my grandmother produces.” She taps her pen on her nose. “Do you like to cook?”
“You know I can’t cook, Jules.”
“Hmm. Maybe we should approach this differently. List your strengths and weaknesses.”
I shrug. “I’m too tired to think about that now. I really appreciate your help, I do. But I think it would be better to turn off my brain for a couple of hours before smoke starts coming out.”
Jules puts her papers on the coffee table and takes out her phone. “Hi, Tony, it’s Jules. Yes, the girl who always orders two pizzas instead of one.” She pauses. “And the extra toppings, yes. Anyway, we’ve got bit of a crisis going on. I need the usual, but with olives this time. And a bottle of wine. We’re going to need it.” When she puts the phone down she grabs my hands. “Help is on the way, sweetie. Let’s get fat and drunk together and forget about jobs. Just for tonight, though. Tomorrow you are going to get your sweet ass out there and find yourself a job.”
We hug. “Thanks, Jules. I love your sweet ass, too. Even if it’s getting fat because of me.”
16 thoughts on “From Heels to Sandals”
I like the opening line, but the second line seemed out of place and a bit awkward to me. Suggestion. When it happened to me an hour ago, I….
I am a little confused also about what has been going on for the past hour. Does the drive home take that long? Did she go to a bar and have a few?
The phrase I opened the flood gates makes me think she consciously decided to cry. I don’t think that is what you are trying to say. Sorry about my nit-picking, but how about this. The floodgates opened and I cried all the way home.
I drop my bag on the floor and kick off my high heels. “What is all of this? What are we celebrating?” Her reaction here seems a little laid back. If that’s her personality fine. If not I would spice it up.
“Come on, Lexie. You just bought a house. I’m so proud of you. Although I’ll really miss having you as a roommate. Look at you. You are (use contraction here. Most people would when speaking.) all grown-up now.”
Perhaps this is just me but I don’t find the dialog very believable. Would she talk like this?
I laugh. “Sure. Grown-up and jobless.” Just a question. Would she laugh here or frown?
I do think it’s funny she answered her phone when she was getting fired. It’s an interesting twist.
She puts the glasses down. “What do you mean jobless? That phone call from before… Where you told me we couldn’t talk because you were getting fired?” It is a bit of an info dump though because Lexie already knows all this. The dialog give me all the details and I think that is all you need.
Okay, so it’s not champagne. Cheap wine. But it’ll do the trick. So just wondering if this is Jules saying this. Little confusing.
Again I find the conversation of her picking up the phone while getting fired amusing. Keeps me interested.
I do think you can tighten the dialog some though.
She pulls a face Not sure what that means?
“Uh oh, it’s going to be hard keeping this a secret from her.” Words just sound a bit formal to me.
Okay the end of my nit-picks. LOL
I like her comeback about working in the coffee shop.
I found the story interesting, some funny moments, though I feel the dialog could use a lot of tightening. The way it’s worded just seems too formal and not conversational to me.
Sorry if I got too nit-picky. Hope you found some things helpful.
Hey, this sounds interesting. Here are my general comments:
You switch from first-person past to first-person present, and it’s really jarring. I had to read it a few times to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.
I agree with Dave that some of the dialogue is stilted, and there are parts of the dialogue that I just don’t see people who know each other saying. For instance, if Lexie lives with Jules, I would assume that Jules knows that she doesn’t have a boyfriend and that she’s not ready for kids yet. Putting that in dialogue feels like the classic “as you know Bob” type of statement. She can just narrate that part.
Also, because I don’t know what type of job she has, the conversation about being a barista threw me. I couldn’t tell if it was in jest or serious. I’m a lawyer, so if you say that to me, you better be joking. If I worked at a register, I might take your seriously. But I can’t tell in what vein it’s supposed to be said.
Last, WHAT is actually the purpose of the scene? There’s a lot of dialogue, but not much happens other than she comes home and she and her roomie talk. I do learn some about her, namely that she just lost her job, doesn’t want her mom to know, and just bought a house. But I don’t know why I care yet. And to be honest, if you answer the phone while I’m firing you, I think you’ve pretty much explained why you got fired. IJS.
Lexie clearly has a good rapport with Jules, and that shines through on the page. But without some context as to why this conversation is important, or why we’re supposed to care about Lexie, I’m lost. HTH.
From Heels to Sandals
In their last sentence of first paragraph you go from past tense to present tense.
“Relieved”, “put”, are past tense but then you go to present tense with “push”.
Second paragraph seems like it should be shorter, faster, to convey Jules suddenly jumping up. Maybe don’t need the fact of the “shared house”. “Wearing a little paper hat and holding…” Seems kind of static. Maybe something more dynamic?
Third paragraph Lexie doesn’t seem to be surprised. Dialog should use contractions and be shorter and punchier:
What’s this? What’s the celebration?”
Fourth paragraph seems like unrealistic dialog because there’s too many thoughts in it.
You inadvertently slip from first person to third person in the paragraph that starts with “She puts the glasses down.”
Next series of dialog needs tags; I don’t know who’s talking.
“I look at her,” who is saying this? Jules or Lexie? Is Jules a woman?
I have to read the next dialog and figure it out.
“You weren’t actually being fired…” Was said by Jules so “I look at her” is Lexie talking so Jules is a woman.
“Puts A hand over her mouth.” Sounds a little funny.
Shouldn’t it be “Puts HER hand over her mouth”?
As someone else said, I think you need to include a little more info on both Lexie and Jules. What was the job Lexie was fired from? I finally saw towards the end that she worked as maybe a waitress serving coffee. Maybe put that up front.
Wait she worked at “California Network” at a high paying job? I’m a little confused now. That doesn’t sound like a restaurant and do waitresses make a lot of money?
Why was she fired? Who is Jules besides being her friend?
The detail about her answering phone as she is being fired is amusing but you don’t have that in first paragraph.
First paragraph is told in past tense. Maybe make it present tense so you can show her answering the phone.
I like the story, great opening line and your dialog is good, the only thing I would do is speed it up a bit, not much. Maybe show a little bit more about the job and why she hates it on her way back home to fill that time void. Good work.
I like the idea and tone, however, I found some things confusing and the tense-switching bothered me.
In the opening, the MC has just been fired. She then goes straight to the rented? house she shares with Jules. Why would Jules be waiting for her with champagne to celebrate? The MC has just been fired and I’m assuming she came home earlier than usual, wouldn’t Jules be surprised to see her home early? I get that this is done to show her housemate’s upbeat personality and to show what the MC’s predicament is she has just bought a house and was fired so she’s in big trouble), but there’s something off about the whole situation. The logic doesn’t quite work and I’m finding myself questioning lots of things. And, I probably missed it, but, what does Jules do for a living?
I also felt the piece lacks rhythm and balance. The opening sentence, for instance:
“The only thing worse than doing a job you don’t like, is getting fired while doing it. After I learned this just one hour ago, I tried to hold my tears until I left the building. But as soon as the door hit me in the ass, I opened the flo…”
After the first sentence, I was expecting to learn something about her job and how she got fired, but instead, the MC rushes out of the building crying. I’m not suggesting you write a lot about it, just something to add balance to the first sentence. Have someone read this aloud for you, so you know what I mean.
Overall, I think this has great potential.
I thought Jules was celebrating that Lexie had just bought a house and was going to be moving. If she’s fired at the end of the day and goes home, the timing makes sense. But since that’s not established, I see your point there.
Given that she’s just bought a house, I’m even more confused about her job. Because she’s saying that she liked her job because she didn’t have to actually work, but that seems to run counter to saving for a downpayment for a house, or looking for a job as a waitress or barista. Color me confused.
Thanks a lot everyone for the comments!
I’m sorry about the lack of clarity, but it’s good that you pointed this out to me. In all honesty, I had a different first chapter, but someone suggested that I would delete it since the story was starting too early (it dealt with Lexie being fired from her job). So I reworked everything a bit, but clearly not in a good way since now no one knows what’s going on 😉 I’ll make sure to edit it thoroughly so that everything is clear and reads smoothly.
I feel like you need to have more connection with the protagonist and the reader in the beginning. The beginning part is long and you could easily cut some things out like the misunderstanding of the phone call and getting fired. As a reader I was bored at first because I don’t know the protagonist yet and I would not be super sad if I got fired from a job I didn’t like. You need to make it more clear as to why being fired really bothered her to the point of tears. My guess is that it has something to do with the mother but it’s not very clear because the protagonist gets mad rather than sad when her friend mentions her so that can’t be why she’s crying. Maybe she is frustrated that she keeps getting fired. When you clarify this by making her actions clear you will get a connection with the reader. But don’t add a long paragraph of explanation, have a max of two sentences to explain that way you don’t scare away your readers. The dialogue at first didn’t get me interested until I read the part about the coffe shop. If you want to make the dialogue less draggy then you can try making the protagonist take a proactive action sooner and also try having the protagonist ask for help instead of being offered help. I say “try” because I can tell they are laid back and don’t like to work (which is very relatable, especially the pizza thing) and I don’t want the protagonist to do anything out of character but I think if you word it right they can still be their lazy go with the flow self while being an active character. This will really get the readers invested because then they would want to see how it all plays out.
I first got interested at the part mentioning a coffe shop always hiring and I would continue reading just to find out why no one can keep a job there and I would be interested to see how a person who seems like they can’t keep a job in general would manage to get hired and stay hired. I also got more interest when they started to try and figure out her interests for a career. I would really love to see some more comedy there (relatable comedy) because it would lighten the load of the story which is great for the beginning of any story. I would give advice on how to do that if I knew how.
Overall I would continue to read the story to find out what would interest her as a career and what is up with the coffe shop. Everyone can relate to being confused about their career interests so I feel like most of your work needs to be done in the beginning part.
Is this a romance novel? There’s nothing in the opening that even hints about this. If I had to guess what kind of novel it was from the opening, I’d probably guess “chick lit.” I think you want to let the reader know what kind of book you’re writing closer to the beginning.
I like that you understand that you need to open with action, rather than having characters sitting/walking/driving around reflecting and ruminating, which is almost always a bad idea. The opening lines are a little clunky, though. Keep working on that first paragraph until it sings.
Whenever you write dialogue, you want it to be tight and lean. No rambling. Every line should have a purpose. Have your characters say only what they need to say.
Watch out for repeated words. For example, you use the word “like” ten times in the opening.
Also, I don’t hate adverbs, but I do think they should be used sparingly. You used “actually” three times.
Shifting tenses can detract from your writing. Be careful.
Good luck with your writing, and keep at it!
“For example, you use the word “like” ten times in the opening.”
This should read: “For example, you used the word “like” ten times in the opening.”
No way to edit; so, I’ll correct it in a comment.
Fun to read! I had an enjoyable time reading it. But now for the serious stuff, dun dun dun.
From a believability stand point on trying to get the reader to buy in on the first page, Lexie’s reaction to the entire situation doesn’t feel right. Buying a house is a long and arduous process, almost to the point that you would beg for mercy to have to go through it again or prevent something from making all of that hard work go to waste. So it would be hard to believe she lost her job unless she did something terrible wrong at work. But I mean, it would have to be so, so bad, that it would be more than just returning to the apartment. May be add a hint that she tried to not get fired by talking to the manager and instead made it worse. I would believe that.
Present tense. When I did some research on present versus past tense, my conclusion was that present tense was best suited for stories that are fast pace, intense, pulling the reader by the collar along with the story. I think present tense may fit this story better, although the rework may be a lot.
Are you using actual experience working at a café? Having experience working there, the detail of having the coffee smell stuck on you is very important. Very nice.
I like the relationship between Lexie and Jules. I’m not sure how, but I think the external and internal stakes/goals need to be clearer to get the reader to be more emotionally invested to keep going to see how Lexie would handle the situation, after she stress eats. I know the external stake is that she was fired and she’ll soon lose her home, but that seems like it’s the status quo. There’s no stability in her life. What would be the internal stake/goal that would help her realize that something needs to change in her life? By stating this clearly in the first 1000 words, it would capture the reader to see if she’ll actually pull through. If the internal goal is stated, I may have missed it.
Keep up the great work! =D
Hi there. This is a good start. The writing seems grammatically sound and it read smoothly for the most part. It didn’t grab my attention, though. The two things that always keep me turing pages in the first chapter are a hook, which usually involves tension of some kind, and characterization of the protagonist. I will usually look past one’s weakness if the other is strong. That being said, I’m not sure using the mother’s reaction to Lexie losing her job is a strong (or original) enough hook. On the other side of the coin, Lexie’s character is likable, but I don’t get a real sense of what she’s feeling or why she’s feeling so it’s hard for me to connect or feel sorry for her. To me, she’s coming off as resigned, perhaps a bit cynical, which makes it seem like she’s not all that upset.
Also, her response to Jules asking her if she likes children makes Lexie seem a little clueless, especially when the question was clearly in context to helping her find a new job she likes. If she had gotten fired for being flighty, that narrative would have made more sense.
I also snagged on some of the phrasing:
“She pulls a face.” I wasn’t sure what that meant. I’ve never heard of the phrase pulling a face so my mind immediately when to someone literally pulling at someone’s face.
“She’s standing next to a cake that has ‘Congratulations, Lexie’ written all over it in chocolate and that’s surrounded by wool balls.” I had to read this sentence several times because I was trying to figure out why a cake would be decorated with wool balls.
I think if you pull out a stronger hook, add a hint of what’s at stake and give us a better peek into Lexie’s emotions, you could have a great first chapter.