Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: The mountains of California
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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.
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.
“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.”
“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.
((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 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.
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.
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 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!
Mom to dd (8), ds (6), and dd (1)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Ensuring the cabby had enough cash--including tip--I rushed toward the automatic doors with baggage in hand, eagerly anticipating the chill of the inside air. Inside, I could breathe. And smile. Within a few hours I'd be landing in a place that, joyfully, knows (or, knew) nothing of smoldering heat or nasty humidity.
Shouldering my bag, I removed my sunglasses and placed them on the brim of my new Orioles baseball cap. I had to wear it. No, I'm not a baseball fan; my good friend Claire and her brood had purchased it for me as a going away present. I'm not a big fan of the color orange with my skin tone either. If only I hadn't spent the better part of the morning second-guessing myself, I would have had time to do my hair.
|And I stood. And waited. And, not having had time think since leaving my apartment this morning, my mind started to wander. And when my mind wanders, it tends to go places it oughtn’t to, which is then always followed by uncertainty. I mean, quite frankly, why am I doing this again? Maybe this was a mistake. It had been over five years since I had seen my family and I wasn’t even sure how they were going to react to my reasoning to visiting home now. Besides, other than the quick, “Yes, come!” from my sister, I hadn’t even told my parents I was on my way.|