or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Archives › Miscellaneous › Mothers' Writing Group › Writing for the Web › Noveling? Post a chapter here for all to scrutinize!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Noveling? Post a chapter here for all to scrutinize!

post #1 of 68
Thread Starter 
If you dare!!!

I'll go first. This is the first chapter of my novel, Blood Freckles. It's technically the second draft, but I'm such a writing newbie, I'm sure there will be a third and forth draft.

Here goes:

It must be an old bar, because I can see people all over the place that aren’t here now, which usually happens in establishments that are old. These are the things my brain strays towards- which has helped keep me out of normal situations all my life. I can always retreat to the secret knowledge of what has been in a place over whats happening now.

I’m trying to live in that “now”. It’s sort of awful.

The thing about rum is that your fingers go numb before your mind does and then you just look like a fool, trying to open your purse or pick up a napkin. This is what he’s seeing, from across the bar- my clumsy fingers fidgeting while pretending to listen to a friends story. He looks inebriated also, but not in the embarrassing way I do. I keep thinking I’ll look up and he will have looked away, or worse, started talking to someone else. He is alone, doesn’t interact with anyone around him, drinking something brown over ice and smoking a cigarette every few minutes. He scares me to death.

I can’t look away from him because the fact is, I’m overwhelmingly attracted to him.

I have no understanding of what it means to be a woman in a bar, talking to a man. Until now, I’ve never been in a bar. I’ve only been with one man. (Man is questionable, I think boy, or maybe guy is a better label) I’ve only had alcohol a few times, and in very small amounts in the privacy of my own residence. This is all too adult for me, I’m sure. I’m just waiting for someone to walk up to me and revoke my license to adulthood or something. Surely I’m not old enough to be considering what would happen if this man comes and talks to me.

Erica is chattering on about something hilarious because both of my other friends are in stitches over it. I can’t really hear them. They are used to going to bars, they are used to reality in way that will never happen for me, I’m quite sure. For some reason, they either like me or tolerate me and my weirdness.

“Nina, just go talk to him.” Erica stops her own story short and poked my arm.

“No, I think he’s just drunk.” I shrug and pretend to sip my rum and Coke. I can’t bear to lose anymore function than I have already, but I feel stupid just sitting here.

“So? He’s fine, and he’s looking at you like you’re edible.” Erica says, swigging the rest of her beer. My other friends were eyeing me, waiting for me to act. I’m numb from rum, but I get up. I leave my coat on the stool and make my way around the u-shaped bar. There is no crowd to negotiate, as least, not in everyone else’s eyes.

I don’t even look where I’m going, I just set myself down on the stool next to him and stare at the woodgrain of the bar top. Immobility seems to set in, perhaps for both of us. Maybe he wasn’t looking at me at all? Maybe we were all way off base? Maybe he thinks I’m dressed weird- which, is totally understandable if you know me.

He speaks.

“I was going to buy you a drink.”

His voice is close enough to my ear, I can feel the rush of air around the words. I manage to look at him, now at close range. His eyes aren’t dark, like I thought they were- they are grey.

“I don’t think I could take another drink.” I smirk.

“Me neither.” He says, setting his glass down and snuffing his cigarette. I notice he is wearing a Who t-shirt and jeans. I, in contrast am wearing a vintage black dress from the 40’s thats lined with red, with fishnet stockings and suede t-straps. I set my red hair in rollers and smoothed it into perfect waves, completing what now feels like a costume. I wish I could melt into the floor.

I watch him pull something out of his pocket, then turn my head away. I have no idea what to do or say. My friends moved to a small table in the corner where they are pretending not to watch me. They are laughing there asses off.

“I need to get out of here before I drink myself unconscious.” I hear him say in slurred speech. He is standing now, assisted by the wall behind him. His eyes are centered on me and filled with a look I recognize.

“Where are you going to go? Home?” I ask,innocent.

“Home is NY. I’m staying across the street.” He says, face unchanging.

“I drove myself here. I could…walk you there, I guess.” I say, tilting my head. I know better. I should be afraid. I should assume he’s going to kill me, but I can’t help it. I’m drawn in, and the bastard probably knows it.

He smiles and gestures to the door. I look back at my friends one more time, and Erica spits out her drink across Shelbys lap.

He steps outside and lights another cigarette. “Does this bother you?”

I clear my throat. “No, I mean, it’s cool, I just…I don’t know, maybe I’m assuming too much, I really just got out of a relationship, and it was my first relationship. I don’t really have much experience with these kinds of-”

“I meant the smoke.” He smiles, then inhales deeply.

“Oh.” I am such a loser. “No, it’s fine. I smoke sometimes.” I am the bumbling idiot I think I am.

He smiles, but winces and smooshes his forehead with his hand like his head hurts.

He takes me by the arm, loops his through mine and leads me across the street- a strangely familiar action for someone I’ve only known for 3 minutes. He smells good, not entirely like booze, but his brown hair is mussed in back like he hasn’t washed it or brushed it in a day or so. He’s wearing worn Converse sneakers that are barely tied.

The sun went down an hour ago, but light still remains. I breath in the city air and try to feel normal. There’s nothing about this that is normal for me. I’m a Pastors kid, for God’s sake. When we reach the hotel entrance, he opens the door for me. It’s an older hotel, privately owned, and well maintained. The lobby smells like old wood and carpet cleaner. He leads me to a hallway while he rummages in his pocket for a room key. It is an actual key, in a time when most hotels are switching to cards.

He tries to get the key in the lock and drops it. I laugh a bit, thinking of plenty of bad omens I could tease him about if I knew him better.

“Can I help you? I can still use my fingers.” I pick up the key and unlock the door myself. When I return the key to his hand, he leans in a plants his face on my neck, pushing me against the doorway. For a moment I can’t tell whether he intends to kiss my neck, or if he’s passed out. I put my arms around him and I’m relieved that he has not passed out.

I can’t explain the next few moments. I’m too unexperienced to describe how we got to the bed with the mustard coverlet. I can’t elaborate on the elegant movements that lead to clothes coming off, I suppose because both of us are so detached from our senses, the details are considerably blurry.
Everything stops. He is next to me on the bed, arms entwined around me, his cloudy eyes fixed on me with sudden intensity. “I’m not an asshole or anything.” His voice is low and soft. “I just..I’m having this awful day.”

“It’s ok.”

“I have nothing for you, really- if only we’d met another time.”

“You’re letting me down easy before sex?”

“I’m giving you a way out beforehand. Like I said, I’m just not an asshole. And…” He takes his hand and brushes some of my hair out of my face. I wish he hadn’t done that.

“And…”

((He pushes his eyes closed and shakes some thought out of his head. ))

I don’t know what to say, so, I kiss him, and as my head spins, it all dissolves into warm.

My eyes pop open to see the grey ceiling above me has water spots. Fog begins to clear and I hear the breathing person next to me. “He didn’t murder me, at least.” I turn on my side and look at him, he is on his side, facing me, and he has a bottle of pills in his hand.

I panic I grab it out of his hand. He doesn’t wake up, but I see that it is only Excedrin, and the bottle it mostly full. Cotton from the inside of the bottle is on the pillow. He must have opened it in the dark, taken a dose then fell asleep.

Compassion wells up and I lean over to kiss him on the forehead. I don’t even know his name. The thought stings. I let my lips stay on him for a moment, then glance around the room.

There is nothing else in this room. Furniture, drapes, lamps, but no voices, no residue of other people and their random lovemaking. I don’t know why some places hold people and others don’t.

Sliding out of the bed, I replace the blankets over him that he’d kicked off. I have to pee.

The bathroom is clean, only a toothbrush and a razor lay next to a leather toiletry case on the counter. After I flush, and unsmudge my eye makeup, I creep out and let myself glance around for anything that gives me a clue about him.

He has a black rolling duffle- a big one. There are books on the dresser, and a few magazines. I look around to see if I can find anything with his name. I just want to know.

The duffle! I kneel down next to the bag and find a tag attached next to the baggage claim slip which had “SFO” and “JFK”. I opened the flap on the tag and it reads:
“John Marxen” with a New York address.

I roll the name back and forth in my head. With my mind settled and the drink all peed out of me, I see that it wasn’t merely the alcohol that lured me to him. He is beautiful. His eyes are wide and fringed with long dark lashes. His face is stubbled, but it looks like coppery specks in the streetlight. I slip under covers next to him and can’t resist the urge to touch his face.

He stirs, but doesn’t wake. I let myself fall asleep next to him, inhaling deeply to gather as much of his smell as my lungs and olfactory senses can old. Next to him- next to John.
************************************************
I don’t want to open my eyes.

The breathing is gone. The smell is gone. And my sleep was filled with dreams that leave me doubled over in ache.

He left.

He is nobody, then. Let him go. He doesn’t want you, you know that, he told you that. He doesn’t even know your name.

The same grey ceiling with the water marks filled my vision as I peel my eyes open. I sit up slowly and scan the room. My dress was hung up on a hanger on a hook by the bathroom. My stockings, panties and bra were neatly folded on the dresser next to my purse. I can see the red arm of my coat sticking out from the closet.
Had he just left without this little gesture, it would be easier to tell myself he’s really gone.

To make matters worse, there is a note. I have to sit down.

Nina,
I left this morning. My flight to JFK was early and I didn’t want to wake you.
Thank you for spending last night with me. My mother died yesterday morning and I fear I’m having a bit of trouble with it. You don’t deserve to be used, so I hope this information prevents you from feeling such.
I knew your name from the moment you walked into the bar last night. Your hair is quite distinctive, even from other redheads. But, it’s more than that. You make me ache. I felt it before you even walked in and couldn’t place the feeling until I saw your eyes.
Jeremy said this would happen. “


The letter slips out of my hand and I look up at my reflection. Tears stream down my cheeks. I never knew they could come that fast.
How could I have been so close to me and not know it?

“Maybe you don’t remember me, I don’t think you recognized me. I’m sorry to trouble you. I wanted this to happen, but not this way.
I don’t think I can live much longer, or else, I would have stayed with you this morning. I once believed it was love.
John.”


Disbelief.

I am moving to New Jersey to find him, but he found me first. Now I have to find out why.
post #2 of 68
Um, can you edit that & put in some way to differentiate the paragraphs? All your formatting was lost in the C&P, from the looks of it. It's very hard on the eyes right now.
post #3 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sagesgirl View Post
Um, can you edit that & put in some way to differentiate the paragraphs? All your formatting was lost in the C&P, from the looks of it. It's very hard on the eyes right now.
yes please..this..however I did read it. I found it quite interesting and you've pulled me in. I'm confused by the end a bit and I'm not sure if it's me, you, or the formatting.

I'll read it over again once it has some paragraphs.
post #4 of 68
Thread Starter 
Ah! Sorry, it was sort of a spur of the moment decision and I just cut and pasted it.

Off to edit the post...
post #5 of 68
Thread Starter 
I hope this is better. It's funny, because usually over fragment my paragraphs TOO much. I'm such a dork. Thanks in advance.
post #6 of 68
The letter slips out of my hand and I look up at my reflection. Tears stream down my cheeks. I never knew they could come that fast.
How could I have been so close to me and not know it?

“Maybe you don’t remember me, I don’t think you recognized me. I’m sorry to trouble you. I wanted this to happen, but not this way.
I don’t think I can live much longer, or else, I would have stayed with you this morning. I once believed it was love.
John.”

Disbelief.

I am moving to New Jersey to find him, but he found me first. Now I have to find out.

The bolded sentence confused me. Then after that...is that a continuation of the note?

Also, the last sentence. I think since this is the first chapter and it hasn't been brought up before you might want to put in the moving to New Jersey thing somewhere previous so that it's not so, I don't know, just there.

Otherwise I like it. And I read your blog...cool!

Allgirls
post #7 of 68
Thread Starter 
I agree with both those points. I was trying to prevent myself from expalining too much too early, in hopes of making the reader want to find out. But, after seeing this both on my blog and here, these things just stick out like a sore thumb. Boy, I've got a long way to go!

Thanks for reading!
post #8 of 68
Thread Starter 
Ok, next? Who else has a chapter?
post #9 of 68
You didn't say how much feedback you're looking for.... so I hope you don't mind the LONG version. I've quoted the whole thing below because it seemed easier than pulling out bits. I put my comments in red, and changes in green (mostly commas or apostrophes, but a single comma is hard to see by itself!).

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdmaze View Post
It must be an old bar, because I can see people all over the place that aren’t here now, which usually happens in establishments that are old. These are the things my brain strays towards- which has helped keep me out of normal situations all my life. I can always retreat to the secret knowledge of what has been in a place over what's happening now.


Overall I think this is an interesting opening.
The phrase "establishments that are old" seems a bit passive -- why not just 'older establishments'?

I think 'has' (in 2nd sentence) should perhaps be 'had' because the 'things' is a plural? But I'd be tempted to change 'which has helped keep' to 'they've driven me out of'. I think 'helped keep' is weak phrasing; driven is a stonger verb.

I’m trying to live in that “now”. It’s sort of awful.

Love this! It's interesting and says something about your character's mindset.

The thing about rum is that your fingers go numb before your mind does and then you just look like a fool, trying to open your purse or pick up a napkin. This is what he’s seeing, from across the bar- my clumsy fingers fidgeting while pretending to listen to a friend's story. He looks inebriated also, but not in the embarrassing way I do. I keep thinking I’ll look up and he will have looked away, or worse, started talking to someone else. He is alone, doesn’t interact with anyone around him, drinking something brown over ice and smoking a cigarette every few minutes. He scares me to death.

"Smoking a cigarette every few minutes" -- like a new one every few minutes, or is he taking puffs on the same cigarette?

I can’t look away from him because the fact is, I’m overwhelmingly attracted to him.

I have no understanding of what it means to be a woman in a bar, talking to a man. Until now, I’ve never been in a bar. I’ve only been with one man. (Man is questionable, I think boy, or maybe guy is a better label.) I’ve only had alcohol a few times, and in very small amounts in the privacy of my own residence. This is all too adult for me, I’m sure. I’m just waiting for someone to walk up to me and revoke my license to adulthood or something. Surely I’m not old enough to be considering what would happen if this man comes and talks to me.

"Residence" is a vague term -- does she own a house? rent an apartment?

Erica is chattering on about something hilarious because both of my other friends are in stitches over it. I can’t really hear them. They are used to going to bars, they are used to reality in way that will never happen for me, I’m quite sure. For some reason, they either like me or tolerate me and my weirdness.

“Nina, just go talk to him.” Erica stops her own story short and pokes my arm.

“No, I think he’s just drunk.” I shrug and pretend to sip my rum and Coke. I can’t bear to lose any more function than I have already, but I feel stupid just sitting here.

“So? He’s fine, and he’s looking at you like you’re edible,” Erica says, swigging the rest of her beer. My other friends are eyeing me, waiting for me to act. I’m numb from rum, but I get up. I leave my coat on the stool and make my way around the u-shaped bar. There is no crowd to negotiate, as least, not in everyone else’s eyes.

I don’t even look where I’m going, I just set myself down on the stool next to him and stare at the woodgrain of the bar top. Immobility seems to set in, perhaps for both of us. Maybe he wasn’t looking at me at all? Maybe we were all way off base? Maybe he thinks I’m dressed weird- which, is totally understandable if you know me.

He speaks.

“I was going to buy you a drink.”

His voice is close enough to my ear, I can feel the rush of air around the words. I manage to look at him, now at close range. His eyes aren’t dark, like I thought they were- they are grey.

“I don’t think I could take another drink.” I smirk.

The four previous paragraphs can become two paragraphs:

I would delete "He speaks", because you don't really need it. Then:

“I was going to buy you a drink.” His voice is close enough to my ear, I can feel the rush of air around the words.

(That's an awesome phrase, by the way!) Then:

I manage to look at him, now at close range. His eyes aren’t dark, like I thought they were- they are grey. “I don’t think I could take another drink.” I smirk.


“Me neither,” he says, setting his glass down and snuffing his cigarette. I notice he is wearing a Who t-shirt and jeans. I, in contrast, am wearing a vintage black dress from the 40’s that's lined with red, with fishnet stockings and suede t-straps. I set my red hair in rollers and smoothed it into perfect waves, completing what now feels like a costume. I wish I could melt into the floor.

I watch him pull something out of his pocket, then I turn my head away. I have no idea what to do or say. My friends moved to a small table in the corner where they are pretending not to watch me. They are laughing there asses off.

Added "I" above because otherwise it could be read that HE turned her head away.

“I need to get out of here before I drink myself unconscious,” I hear him say in slurred speech. He is standing now, assisted by the wall behind him. His eyes are centered on me and filled with a look I recognize.

“Where are you going to go? Home?” I ask, innocent.

“Home is NY. I’m staying across the street.” He says, face unchanging.

Does he actually say the letters N and Y, or New York? I've never heard anyone say "NY" as letters. Side note: your dialogue tags are repeatedly written with periods, but this is incorrect grammar.

“I drove myself here. I could…walk you there, I guess.” I say, tilting my head. I know better. I should be afraid. I should assume he’s going to kill me, but I can’t help it. I’m drawn in, and the bastard probably knows it.

He smiles and gestures to the door. I look back at my friends one more time, and Erica spits out her drink across Shelby's lap.

He steps outside and lights another cigarette. “Does this bother you?”

Is our POV character outside too? Otherwise she wouldn't hear him speaking....

I clear my throat. “No, I mean, it’s cool, I just…I don’t know, maybe I’m assuming too much, I really just got out of a relationship, and it was my first relationship. I don’t really have much experience with these kinds of-”

“I meant the smoke.” He smiles, then inhales deeply.

“Oh.” I am such a loser. “No, it’s fine. I smoke sometimes.” I am the bumbling idiot I think I am.

He smiles, but winces and smooshes his forehead with his hand like his head hurts.

He takes me by the arm, loops his through mine and leads me across the street- a strangely familiar action for someone I’ve only known for 3 minutes. He smells good, not entirely like booze, but his brown hair is mussed in back like he hasn’t washed it or brushed it in a day or so. He’s wearing worn Converse sneakers that are barely tied.

The sun went down an hour ago, but light still remains. I breath in the city air and try to feel normal. There’s nothing about this that is normal for me. I’m a Pastor's kid, for God’s sake. When we reach the hotel entrance, he opens the door for me. It’s an older hotel, privately owned, and well maintained. The lobby smells like old wood and carpet cleaner. He leads me to a hallway while he rummages in his pocket for a room key. It is an actual key, in a time when most hotels are switching to cards.

You didn't specify at first that they were going to a hotel, so I was a bit thrown that they just walked across the street and bam, a hotel. Also as a hotel as opposed to a motel, wouldn't the rooms typically be upstairs? But you don't mention stairs or an elevator.

He tries to get the key in the lock and drops it. I laugh a bit, thinking of plenty of bad omens I could tease him about if I knew him better.

“Can I help you? I can still use my fingers.” I pick up the key and unlock the door myself. When I return the key to his hand, he leans in a plants his face on my neck, pushing me against the doorway. For a moment I can’t tell whether he intends to kiss my neck, or if he’s passed out. I put my arms around him and I’m relieved that he has not passed out.

How can she tell he hasn't passed out? He moves? His breathing?


I can’t explain the next few moments. I’m too unexperienced to describe how we got to the bed with the mustard coverlet. I can’t elaborate on the elegant movements that lead to clothes coming off, I suppose because both of us are so detached from our senses, the details are considerably blurry.
Everything stops. He is next to me on the bed, arms entwined around me, his cloudy eyes fixed on me with sudden intensity. “I’m not an asshole or anything.” His voice is low and soft. “I just..I’m having this awful day.”

“It’s ok.”

“I have nothing for you, really- if only we’d met another time.”

“You’re letting me down easy before sex?”

I'd want to see more of her reaction. Is she too fuzzy-headed with drinking to really get much out of his words? Is she impatient to get on with it? Nervous? Still taking his clothes off as they speak?

“I’m giving you a way out beforehand. Like I said, I’m just not an asshole. And…” He takes his hand and brushes some of my hair out of my face. I wish he hadn’t done that.

“And…”

((He pushes his eyes closed and shakes some thought out of his head. ))

Why is this part within parentheses?

I don’t know what to say, so, I kiss him, and as my head spins, it all dissolves into warm.

My eyes pop open to see the grey ceiling above me has water spots. Fog begins to clear and I hear the breathing person next to me. “He didn’t murder me, at least.” I turn on my side and look at him, he is on his side, facing me, and he has a bottle of pills in his hand.

First sentence: I would cut it up into 2: "My eyes open. The grey ceiling above me has water spots."
Does she speak out loud?


I panic I grab it out of his hand. He doesn’t wake up, but I see that it is only Excedrin, and the bottle it mostly full. Cotton from the inside of the bottle is on the pillow. He must have opened it in the dark, taken a dose then fell asleep.

I think "panic" is a bit tell-y: maybe describe her physical reaction instead. Ie: My heart races as I grab it out of his hand.
"fell asleep" should be "fallen asleep".


Compassion wells up and I lean over to kiss him on the forehead. I don’t even know his name. The thought stings. I let my lips stay on him for a moment, then glance around the room.

There is nothing else in this room. Furniture, drapes, lamps, but no voices, no residue of other people and their random lovemaking. I don’t know why some places hold people and others don’t.

Sliding out of the bed, I replace the blankets over him that he’d kicked off. I have to pee.

The bathroom is clean, only a toothbrush and a razor lay next to a leather toiletry case on the counter. After I flush, and unsmudge my eye makeup, I creep out and let myself glance around for anything that gives me a clue about him.

He has a black rolling duffel- a big one. There are books on the dresser, and a few magazines. I look around to see if I can find anything with his name. I just want to know.

The duffel! I kneel down next to the bag and find a tag attached next to the baggage claim slip which had “SFO” and “JFK”. I open the flap on the tag and it reads: “John Marxen” with a New York address.

I roll the name back and forth in my head. With my mind settled and the drink all peed out of me, I see that it wasn’t merely the alcohol that lured me to him. He is beautiful. His eyes are wide and fringed with long dark lashes. His face is stubbled, but it looks like coppery specks in the streetlight. I slip under covers next to him and can’t resist the urge to touch his face.

The description of his eyes being wide sounds as if they are open; but I'm pretty sure he's still asleep. The phrase "in the streetlight" makes me think they are outdoors -- is the streetlight coming in a window?

He stirs, but doesn’t wake. I let myself fall asleep next to him, inhaling deeply to gather as much of his smell as my lungs and olfactory senses can old. Next to him- next to John.

************************************************

I don’t want to open my eyes.

The breathing is gone. The smell is gone. And my sleep was filled with dreams that leave me doubled over in ache.

He left.

He is nobody, then. Let him go. He doesn’t want you, you know that, he told you that. He doesn’t even know your name.

The same grey ceiling with the water marks fills my vision as I peel my eyes open. I sit up slowly and scan the room. My dress is hanging up on a hanger on a hook by the bathroom. My stockings, panties and bra are neatly folded on the dresser next to my purse. I can see the red arm of my coat sticking out from the closet.

Had he just left without this little gesture, it would be easier to tell myself he’s really gone.

To make matters worse, there is a note. I have to sit down.

Nina,
I left this morning. My flight to JFK was early and I didn’t want to wake you.
Thank you for spending last night with me. My mother died yesterday morning and I fear I’m having a bit of trouble with it. You don’t deserve to be used, so I hope this information prevents you from feeling such.
I knew your name from the moment you walked into the bar last night. Your hair is quite distinctive, even from other redheads. But, it’s more than that. You make me ache. I felt it before you even walked in and couldn’t place the feeling until I saw your eyes.
Jeremy said this would happen. “


Who is Jeremy? I'm suspicious that the last sentence is a mini infodump because I can't see anyone actually writing it into a note.

The letter slips out of my hand and I look up at my reflection. Tears stream down my cheeks. I never knew they could come that fast.

How could I have been so close to me and not know it?

The last sentence is confusing. Does it have to do with her 2nd sense?

“Maybe you don’t remember me, I don’t think you recognized me. I’m sorry to trouble you. I wanted this to happen, but not this way.
I don’t think I can live much longer, or else, I would have stayed with you this morning. I once believed it was love.
John.”


Disbelief.

I am moving to New Jersey to find him, but he found me first. Now I have to find out why.

I am left confused. Was she already in the processing of moving? Or is she declaring right now that she's going to move? Did she have some premonition that she'd fall in love with this guy? His note is also confusing.
I hope some of that is helpful. In general I think it's an interesting first chapter. You've certainly started the story off with a bang! I am convinced Nina would go to New York to find this guy again.

I'm left confused at the end because the last few paragraphs are cryptic and as a reader, I feel like both John and Nina are telling me things I don't have any background information about. I don't know how to interpret their statements or evaluate whether they're normal for people with some kind of 2nd sense?

On a technical level, I think your writing is pretty good. The voice is strong and also readable. The pacing seemed good, too. The action flows, and the dialogue "sounds" authentic.

My one overall grammar suggestion would be to review how dialogue is tagged. You are consistent in incorrectly tagging dialogue that ends with "he says"/"she replied" sort of tags. This site might be useful to you.
post #10 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdmaze View Post
I agree with both those points. I was trying to prevent myself from expalining too much too early, in hopes of making the reader want to find out. But, after seeing this both on my blog and here, these things just stick out like a sore thumb. Boy, I've got a long way to go!

Thanks for reading!
Those are just little things..and the hook for me is to find out what the connection is between the two people at this point. Those are the only things that jump out at me at all, everything else is great!
post #11 of 68
Thread Starter 
You guys- this is awesome input! I need a lot of work. I really have no sense of grammar anymore. Whether something is passive or not completely eludes me. I will do some homework in that department.

Erin- thanks for SO MUCH great input- I loved that. I will check out that website for sure. I don't know how to craft my dialogue correctly.

And allgirls, thanks as well. I didn't want to infodump too much, hoping the questions people had wiuld be interesting enough to pull them forward. I will try some re-wroding and see if I can get the results I'm hoping for.
post #12 of 68
I'm new to this forum, so I hope you don't mind me jumping in!

My biggest critique of this chapter is that I don't feel enough connection between the two characters to "buy" that she'd go to his hotel and sleep with him after their very brief encounter in the bar. Yes, it's apparent she's known him before (we find that out after reading the rest of the chapter). But I don't feel the attraction, the raw energy, the whatever that makes her go against what she knows is best to pursue this man. I'd like to see more of what makes this man so compelling to her.

Good job so far!
post #13 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by greeny View Post
I'm new to this forum, so I hope you don't mind me jumping in!

My biggest critique of this chapter is that I don't feel enough connection between the two characters to "buy" that she'd go to his hotel and sleep with him after their very brief encounter in the bar. Yes, it's apparent she's known him before (we find that out after reading the rest of the chapter). But I don't feel the attraction, the raw energy, the whatever that makes her go against what she knows is best to pursue this man. I'd like to see more of what makes this man so compelling to her.

Good job so far!
Good point! It's tough to convey what I "know" to the reader. I guess thats what makes me an amateur! I will work on this.

Seriously, guys, this is SO good for me!! My brain is cranking...
post #14 of 68
CD - I think that's an AWESOME start! To a book, I mean! Or novella, or short story...whatever it turns into for you! I think it's wonderful. I love the boy character, how hard he's trying not to be an a$$hole and yet, predictably enough, he is one! And how she is finding herself between the two worlds, her 'nether' world, and this one, that is full of real people who really get drunk and have sex and smoke cigs. Wonderful! I think you can continue in the first chapter, depending on how long this story is...how much more detail you have. It'd be great to have a better sense of what kind of power she has, and whether she can DO stuff with it...I am CURIOUS!

Your tenses are ragged (mine too lol!). An editor can fix that pretty easily, you just need to decide when you want the story to reside. And there are some other gramatical issues that could make it easier to read, smoother. But overall, I really like it!

You can cut out some sentances that don't move it forward - for example you mention specifically that she leaves her jacket w/her friends but that's the last we hear of that. Do they sneak into the apartment/hotel to return it to her? Do they take off with it, w/her keys in the pocket? Either drop it or follow through with it, is my opinion. With love!

Again, much kudos for putting this out there! If I had the guts to type mine up (or the time? What an excuse, huh?) I'd put mine in the fray. Interestingly I'm not afraid of criticism, but of rejection outright. Weird...

Great job!!
post #15 of 68
Well, I will go next. I'm not going to post a chapter, because I don't have them yet, but I will post a scene for you. The background to this is my MCs are going to interview one of her contacts in the supernatural community for information on their case. (ETA: To explain Bellamy's comment about being "pre-cooked", he has severe burn injuries on his left side. Oh, & Gerry was also Vangie's divorce lawyer, but it doesn't matter in the context of this scene. I think everything else is evident.)

An hour later, we were motoring down the Poteet-Jourdanton highway for the second day in a row. My gas card was going to get one hell of a workout, at this rate. I missed my Festiva. And the ability to eat lunch without moving. I dug a Poor Boy out of the bag and tossed it in Bellamy's general direction. "I cannot believe how much I have to teach you, grasshopper," I said as he unwrapped the sandwich and handed half of it to me.

"It's not my fault they don't have Bill Miller's in Houston." Rewrapping my sandwich, he pulled his own from the bag and tore into it, eyes closing in bliss at the first bite. "Damn them."

I grunted, because I was a lady and didn't talk with my mouth full. Gerry had agreed to meet with Bellamy, but only at his office. "I have to smell him first," he had explained to me after their conversation. I had forgotten that werewolves could smell honesty. It was more than being able to recognize a lie; they could smell some essential quality of trustworthiness in a person. I really should have had Gerry sniff over my ex-husband surreptitiously before being fool enough to marry him, but I'd been a teenager, and naive, and Gerry probably would have eaten Stephen. He'd told me during the divorce that my erstwhile love stank up the whole room. Gerry was a picky lawyer, but a good one.

Poteet is a small town, an agricultural one. Downtown Metropolitan Poteet, as my mother would call it, is the epitome of small-town Texas, not much more involved than a feed store, a Dairy Queen, and a Valero gas station. Gerry's offices were in a scrupulously-restored 1930's-era storefront on ______________ Street. The building was seafoam-green, the windows cleaned every morning by Pack cousins so that they opened gleaming onto the plant-filled waiting room. I parked Matt's truck in the small side parking lot, beside Gerry's classic 'Vette. He'd cleared the afternoon for us.

A small bell above the door jingled as we walked in. Claire, Gerry's wife, looked up from here desk by the door. In her mid-forties, she had ginger hair pulled back into a bun, patrician features, and clear blue eyes. She smiled broadly when she saw me--all the werewolves did. I smelled good to them. Her nostrils flared when she saw Bellamy. She froze for a moment, holding her breath, then broke into a full-blown grin and stood, coming around the desk. "Vangie! It's so good to see you! Who's this?" She hugged me, and stood within a foot of Bellamy, smiling rather stupidly.

"Claire, hi. This is Staff Sergeant Carleton Bellamy, my partner and apprentice. Please get off of him."

Claire flushed briefly and stepped back. She was normally a very composed woman. "Beg pardon. It's nice to meet you, Sergeant Bellamy. I'll go tell Gerry you're here." She all but ran out of the room, obviously embarrassed.

"The hell was that about?"

"You're apparently an honest, honorable man."

Bellamy looked at me obliquely. "I try to be a man of my word. But that really explains nothing."

I explained, as best I could. I did not fully understand it. Not every werewolf was a morally upstanding individual; could they be detected? I didn't think so. Maybe it only worked on humans. "So, if you're honorable, they know it. It seems to make them a little silly at first."

Bellamy thought. "I can see how it would help a lawyer. It would benefit us as well, or the police."

"In fact, Sergeant, there are a number of werewolves in the military and law enforcement both." This from Gerry as he came from the back room. "We just keep it quiet." He offered his hand, and Bellamy shook it. "It's a real pleasure to meet you, Sergeant."

"Carl, please. I appreciate your willingness to give me a chance."

Gerry smiled a bit. On him, it was almost as much of a reaction as Claire's grin and hug had been. If anyone would be pegged by the unknowing as a werewolf, Gerry would be it. Well over six feet tall, he retained the bulk of the college football player he had once been, and though his hair was receding and clipped close to his head, his eyebrows were bushy and wild, and he had a five o'clock shadow shortly past noon. On days he went to court, he shaved twice. "It's far better than eating you out of hand."

Bellamy arched an eyebrow. Gerry and I gave him blank, serene faces. I was reasonably certain my old friend was joking. Werewolves, he had told me years ago, had just as strong a taboo against eating humans as did the Unchanging. The Changing, as they tended to call themselves, typically considered themselves to still be human, something borne out by their ability to have offspring--fertile offspring--with the Unchanging. But not with Magi, something I could never quite figure out. Perhaps the two mutations were too far apart.

The silence stretched another heartbeat before Bellamy shrugged. "Your loss. I'm precooked and everything."

Gerry laughed and whacked Bellamy chummily on his right shoulder. "You'll do, boy, you'll do." He turned to me. "Evangeline, you should marry this young man. Have little magical children. He's not stinky like Stephen. You need to get started on making babies. You're already thirty. Not much time left."

And to think, a moment before I had been enjoying Bellamy's discomfort. I stared, my mouth almost open, mind a complete blank. Magae lived longer than normal women, and had proportionately longer fertile periods. It wouldn't be impossible, or even unusual, for me to have a child at sixty. Gerry knew that. I had forgotten he was an inveterate matchmaker. He'd tried setting me up on a blind date the very day my divorce had been finalized. Werewolves are big on family; most of their girls were married by sixteen and had their first child before twenty.

Bellamy saved me. Sort of. "With respect, sir, I haven't even met her mother yet. You know you can't marry a woman without meeting her mother."

I punched him in the arm--the left one--while Gerry laughed. "Fair enough. Fair enough. Y'all come on back into my office."

Gerry's office was as nice as you'd expect from a man who made as much as $250 an hour. Taking up about half of the back of the store, the office boasted built-in bookshelves on every inch of wall not door or window. The floor was parquet--the real thing and not veneer--covered partially by a Turkish rug I knew he had bought in Ankara. The window, which overlooked a small park behind the building, was made up of many small panes of glass and bowed around a window seat. Gerry's desk was as long as my Festiva, damn near as wide, and had been made by hand from teak. To one side of its blotter, the desk sported a Mac G4, to the other a small forest of photos of his children and grandchildren--he and Claire had eight children and as many grandkids from the four kids old enough to be married. The Deifenholz and Aldrich matriarchs had met at a Mothers of Many club. Two leather wing chairs fronted the desk and a third was behind it. There was another chair and a couch grouped around a coffee table--also handmade--over near the window, and this was where Gerry led us.

I handed Gerry the files and sat down on the couch as Claire came into the room behind us, bearing a tray with a pitcher of iced tea and four glasses. She poured, and I took a glass. The tea would be sweet, and I didn't actually drink sweet tea, but it would have been an insult to refuse. I sat on the couch and Bellamy sat down beside me, his own glass in hand. Gerry sat in the chair, and Claire sank down gracefully to the floor at his feet. Even though I understood it to be part show for Bellamy's benefit and part show of devotion, it made me uncomfortable to see her on the floor. Showing it would have been another insult, so I didn't, and laid a gentle hand on Bellamy's wrist, both warning to him and show of protection to the Diefenholzes. Claire may have changed my baby brother's diapers, but the Weres were still dangerous.

Claire smiled at me. "Has Gerry offered to marry you two yet?" In an odd bit of irony, Gerry was an ordained minister, and performed all the pack ceremonies.

I laughed. "Not quite. But he has suggested we get married."

Clair tch'ed. "Feh. Bellamy hasn't even met your mother yet."

Her, I couldn't hit. So I did the next best thing. I got down to business. I set my glass back on the tray and pointed to the top folder in Gerry's lap. "This is the woman we're meeting with when we leave here. LaShawn Johnson. Thirty-seven. Born and raised in New Orleans, evacuated with her fiance ahead of Katrina." I paused a moment while Gerry scanned the incident report, then handed it to his wife so he could look at the pictures. "She was a virgin until Michael Davis, her fiance, raped her a week ago."

Claire looked up from the report. "We could eat him."

I shook my head. "He's in jail. Thing is, he's got no history of criminal activity, much less violence. The couple has been together five years, engaged two. They met at the Potter's House, an evangelical church. He was the youth coordinator."

Claire gave her husband back the report; he handed her the pictures. She glanced down at a photo of Johnson at the hospital, shirt torn, eye beginning to swell shut; back at me. "You're sure of this?"

I nodded. "Reasonably sure. I've put in a request for his juvenile records, just to verify things."

Bellamy looked at me in some surprise. "I thought juvenile records were sealed."

"Nothing is sealed to me, Bellamy. I'm part of the federal government twice over. I've got a security clearance second only to the Vice President and President." All MEs (In this context, ME means Magical Examiner, not medical examiner.) did. "I got your records, didn't I?"

"Fair enough." He didn't sound happy about it. I'd deal with it later.

Gerry cleared his throat. "What makes you think a werewolf is involved?"

"Honestly? I don't. I'm just covering my bases. There may be something you know that I do not."

Claire handed the photos back to Gerry without looking at any more. She was angry, and I could sense the wolf moving under her skin, agitated. Power flowed from her a moment, a hot wind, before Gerry stroked her from the top of her head down to the back of her neck, where he cupped his hand loosely. It looked for all the world like he was petting a dog, but I knew the ritual touch had served to calm her and help push her power back down. He'd done it to me once upon a time; it was a gift. A unique one, so far as I knew. I couldn't even do it.

Calm again, Claire looked at me. "No one of the Changing did this. We know every wolf in this city. We can...sense them." She shrugged delicately. "If another of the Changing came into our territory, we would know it. It is a power alphas have."

I nodded. "Good to know. Remember that you can come to the OME for help with anything."

She gazed at me levelly. I did not drop my eyes. Bellamy did. Smart man. I was Claire's equal, a fact she and I both appreciated. "Find justice for this woman."

I dipped my head in acknowledgment, lowering my eyes slightly. "I will." My own power came to me as I called it, a cool breeze, and I sent it towards Claire and Gerry. We had learned more or less by accident years ago that my magic rejuvenated them. Lore had it that Magi and the Changing had fought side by side more than once in history. We were definitely adapted to working together.

Bellamy and I left soon after. It was frustrating, in a way, but at least I knew my initial hunch was correct. Gerry had promised to send one of his sons to sniff around the crime scenes, just to see if they could gather any more information. Chances were good they could find something out, I knew. But what?
post #16 of 68
Sabre - I LOVE your dialogue!!! IT's really fabulous. Very real, comfortable. Believable. I don't love the werewolf theme. It doesn't feel right to me. I DO Like the CHANGING concept, how it is different from werepeople, and yet similar. I like this! I can believe almost anything, even that they retain superpowers when they are in human form. This would not be true of werepeople. So I'd move the vocabulary around to reflect this new way of classifying in your story right from the get go and let go of the other diction completely.

The story is totally plausable to me, I love the main character, though more description of them would help me feel like I know them better. I feel like I know Bellamy better than Vangie. Tall? Fat? Dark? Bald? Gorgeous? Tatooed? More. Because I like her!

Great job putting this out there! It's a wonderful, glittering story that I'd like to read more of! (dangling prep, but TRUE!)
post #17 of 68
Mamabeca, the concept of werewolves having powers in human form is beginning to become more common in the genre, but I see where you're coming from with that.

My problem with describing Vangie is that she's telling the story, & I always find it awkward to describe the narrator in first person. I describe Bellamy in some detail in the beginning of the story, but I've loaned that notebook to my best friend (who is my first reader). For the record, he is two inches taller than she (I haven't really figured out how tall she is, yet), military-cut blond hair, green eyes, with severe burn scars on the left side of his face & neck; he's missing a tiny part of the top of his left ear; the burns are on his left arm as well & he is missing his left middle-finger & half his left ring finger.

Here's a bit of description of Vangie, from a different scene:

The sound brought my mother out of the kitchen, the last door on the right. My mother's father's family is Mexican, mestizo, the Indians. I take after the European side of the family more, my skin pale in the winter months, my father's clear gray eyes, German nose. But when my mother is beside me, it is plain we are family, even though she's about twenty shades darker than I even on my brownest summer day. I have her thick, coarse black hair, her high cheekbones, square hands, wide hips. I'd like to think I had her love fo family and a similar forceful personality. And her talent for cooking, thorugh I hardly ever had the opportunity to test that theory.

She also has a tattoo, though I haven't yet decided what it is, or where it is, beyond that it's not normally visible.
post #18 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdmaze View Post
If you dare!!!

I'll go first. This is the first chapter of my novel, Blood Freckles. It's technically the second draft, but I'm such a writing newbie, I'm sure there will be a third and forth draft.

Here goes:

It must be an old bar, because I can see people all over the place that aren’t here now, which usually happens in establishments that are old. These are the things my brain strays towards- which has helped keep me out of normal situations all my life. I can always retreat to the secret knowledge of what has been in a place over whats happening now.
I'm interested in what the bar looks like...need some scenery

I'd like to know more of why she's into this guy, how the chemistry feels...I don't feel like there's any there.

The sun went down an hour ago, but light still remains. I breath in the city air and try to feel normal. There’s nothing about this that is normal for me. I’m a Pastors kid, for God’s sake. When we reach the hotel entrance, he opens the door for me. It’s an older hotel, privately owned, and well maintained. The lobby smells like old wood and carpet cleaner. He leads me to a hallway while he rummages in his pocket for a room key. It is an actual key, in a time when most hotels are switching to cards.

I love this! This SHOWS more, rather than it just being TOLD to me. I can see it, feel it.

Good start!
post #19 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sagesgirl View Post
An hour later, we were motoring down the Poteet-Jourdanton highway for the second day in a row. My gas card was going to get one hell of a workout, at this rate. I missed my Festiva. And the ability to eat lunch without moving. I dug a Poor Boy out of the bag and tossed it in Bellamy's general direction. "I cannot believe how much I have to teach you, grasshopper," I said as he unwrapped the sandwich and handed half of it to me.
great writing! I'm not into this genre, but I'd read this story from reading what you have so far

I'm sort of confused as to who is talking. The POV seems shifty - is this intentional? Who's talking? Maybe describe her/him more. Is he/she a werewolf? I don't know the ins/outs of this genre so maybe if I knew more I'd get it
post #20 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sagesgirl View Post
Here's a bit of description of Vangie, from a different scene:

The sound brought my mother out of the kitchen, the last door on the right. My mother's father's family is Mexican, mestizo, the Indians. I take after the European side of the family more, my skin pale in the winter months, my father's clear gray eyes, German nose. But when my mother is beside me, it is plain we are family, even though she's about twenty shades darker than I even on my brownest summer day. I have her thick, coarse black hair, her high cheekbones, square hands, wide hips. I'd like to think I had her love fo family and a similar forceful personality. And her talent for cooking, thorugh I hardly ever had the opportunity to test that theory.

She also has a tattoo, though I haven't yet decided what it is, or where it is, beyond that it's not normally visible.
I like this. Does she have any of her Mother's spirituality in the book? Anything Nature based? Mother-Earth spirituality? How is she a wereperson? From her father/mother? I guess I'd have to read the book to know

I think Mestizo should be capitalized.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Writing for the Web
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Archives › Miscellaneous › Mothers' Writing Group › Writing for the Web › Noveling? Post a chapter here for all to scrutinize!