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  1. #1
    Jay S

    The 2nd Half Of My Chapter 1 (thanks Bea and Gary)

    Well, I tried to go at it again. Here is the second half of my chapter one. Bea and Gary helped me with the first half and I hope their help has translated in the second part.

    If anyone cares, this is the first chapter to the first book of a three part series. I have written all three books. Now I am re-writing them. I am working to get my writing to publishable quality (like everyone else here is doing as well, i'm sure).

    So now I'm not trying to focus on plot (that's all done). I'm focusing on the actual writing itself.

    Once again. Honest opinions please. :-)

    The East Oberlin skyline hit Maegan’s gaze, and she took a deep sigh of relief. During the drive across Connecticut she had cried. Reality was hitting her. She had pulled herself and her sons from the wealth of a man whom she no longer loved. He could have secured their futures in every way imaginable. She had no money, and nothing would be awarded after the divorce was final. She had signed away that right before they married.

    Familiar sights hit her eyes and gave her the warm feeling of home. Her entire family had grown up living in the city, and they did so working for everything they had. Even after the seven years of being a wealthy woman, the idea her mother’s homemade grilled cheese sandwich (with pickles in the middle) made her feel like she was a child again.

    The car came to a stop and she pulled out her only suitcase. She navigated through the darkness and rain with her book bag around her shoulder and her suitcase in hand.

    She stood on the porch of her mother’s two-story, three-bedroom home. The form of her good friend, Joseph Roepke, could be seen through the translucent curtains. He was tall and had dark wavy hair. He spoke in a deep and soothing tone that could sweet-talk the pants off any girl, except Maegan. He felt like more of a brother to her than her actual brother, who was a distant and disapproving born-again pastor.

    The front door swung open. Maegan’s mother, Beatrice, stood there wearing a cooking apron and holding an oven mitt in her left hand. “It’s Saturday. What are you doing here?” she asked.

    “I’ve left him.”

    “For good?”

    “Yes,” Maegan squeaked. She inhaled and struggled to push the words off of her tongue. “Would it be alright if me and the boys stayed here for a little while, just until we can find a place.”

    “Oh, dear God yes,” cried Beatrice. She grabbed Maegan’s arm and pulled her into an embrace. “You stay here as long as you want. There is more than enough room for all of us.”

    “Thanks, Mom.”

    Maegan’s eyes met Joseph’s as he nodded and mouthed the words, “Good for you.”

    Maegan rocked back and forth. Her mother would not let go. “You’ll sleep in your old room, and we’ll make up your brother’s old room into a room for the boys. There’ll be no need for you to leave.”

    A feeling of relief hit Maegan. She was glad to see that her mother was so welcoming, considering how many times she had been told by her that her marriage would end in divorce.

    “Alright, now let’s see.” Beatrice pulled Maegan into the living room. “You sit down, and while I finish up baking I’ll fix you a snack. How’s that?”

    “That sounds great,” said Maegan. “I can’t remember the last time I ate something home-cooked.”

    She sat in her mother’s dusty rose armchair. Her four year old son, Emerson, jumped into her lap and embraced his mother. Emerson’s twin brother, Elijah, was sitting on the floor crashing his toy cars together next to Joseph’s son, Christian.

    “Are you going to be alright?” asked Joseph.

    “I think so.”

    Maegan looked Joseph in the eyes until he averted his gaze.

    “The boys have been good,” he said. He sat down on the couch. “Elijah and Christian have been inseparable, as always.”

    Maegan rocked Emerson in her arms like a newborn. Elijah and Emerson were identical twins, at least on the outside. “Has he played with them at all?” she asked.

    Joseph shrugged.

    “Well, maybe once he gets used to living here he’ll be more playful.”

    “So,” Joseph gulped. “You’re planning on staying here for a while, huh?”

    “Probably ‘til the day I die, to be honest” said Maegan. “It’s the only place that’s really felt like home. Besides, the boys disserve a simple life, like the way you and I were raised. I don’t want them to turn out anything like Marcus. I want them to be raised as Egan’s, not Boleyn’s.”

    “Do you think that he and his mother will seek custody of the twins?” asked Joseph. He seemed to be treading cautiously.

    “He won’t.”

    “Are you sure about his mother?”

    “Positive.” Maegan laughed. She was bound to find the humor in such a serious situation. “You know, everyone seems to expect that his mother will be furious when she finds out that we’ve divorced. Honestly, I think she’ll be tickled.”

    Joseph nodded. “I guess she’ll just have to go out and find another daughter-in-law.”

    “Oh, Marcus has already got that covered, believe me.”

    Joseph leaned forward. “So what made you finally decide to do it?”

    Maegan exhaled. She looked straight into Joseph’s brown eyes and spoke softly so that her mother couldn’t hear. “I found out I’ve got multiple sclerosis.”

    “What?” Joseph’s face had gone cod.

    “I’ve got MS.”

    He didn’t say a word. His breathing sped up and he looked away from Maegan.

    “It seems I’ve had it for a while,” she explained. “I decided that I had to get my life together now and start living the
    way I wanted. I started making a living will, and I realized that if the disease overtook me before the boys grew up that

    I didn’t want Marcus to have custody of them. It hit me that if I didn’t want my sons to raised by their own father then what was I doing by staying in the marriage.”

    “Does your mother know?”

    Maegan shook her head.

    “Who does?”

    “Just myself, Marcus, and now you.” Joseph returned to his stony silence. “I will tell Mom, soon, I promise. But when
    I told Marcus that I didn’t want him to raise the boys, he didn’t care. He told me that they were my idea to begin with.”

    “What a bastard.” Joseph ran his hands through his black wavy hair.

    “You’ll stay here, won’t you?” asked Maegan. She reached forward with her free hand to touch Joseph’s knee. “If I die, you’ll continue living across the street to watch over the boys, won’t you?”


    Maegan hugged onto her son and rocked.

    “I’ve been wondering when we should tell them about . . . everything,” said Maegan. She wanted to change the subject as quick as possible. “The boys will be starting kindergarten in the fall.”

    Joseph looked up.

    Beatrice put her hands on Maegan’s shoulders. “How about a grilled cheese sandwich with dill pickles on the inside,” she asked.

    “If it’s not too much trouble.” Maegan patted her mother’s hands.

    “What about you, Joseph?”

    He put his hands up to his mouth and puffed out his cheeks. “None for me, thank you,” he said.

    Maegan licked her lips and waited until she knew her mother was in the kitchen. She heard the sound of butter hitting the skillet.

    Joseph spoke first, “I think that it’s best that we tell them early.”

    “I agree.”

    “I mean, they’ll all have to learn how to pretend that they’re not different, you know? No one can know but us that they’re…” Joseph paused and whispered, “Angels.”

    Maegan nodded. “I need to do some research. As far as I know as I know, unless they are trained they won’t know how to use their divinity.”

    “We’ll just have to keep a good eye on them.”

    “Probably tell them all at once.”

    “But if it can wait,” said Joseph. “We should wait until they’re seventeen. By then their hormones will begin calming down and they’ll have at least a year to adjust. Not to mention, learn how to keep it secret, not just from the general public, but from The Angelic Heritage itself.”

    “Assuming I’m still alive then,” said Maegan. She stared at the floor as if examining Joseph’s shoes.

    “You will be.” He was firm and unquestioning. “You’re an Angel, Maegan. Angels don’t die, not of human disease.”

    Maegan smiled. It wasn’t true at all, and she knew that Joseph knew better. Either way, his determination cheered her up.

    “I hope you’re right.”

  2. #2
    Brandon Cleveland

    Re: The 2nd Half Of My Chapter 1 (thanks Bea and Gary)

    It's not bad - I think you could benefit from the use of a semicolon or ten. I dont know if this makes a lot of sense, but you are overdoing it on periods, where commas or, like i stated before, semicolons.

    I suppose since I dont know what's happening in the book, I can't really talk about story progression. I take it angels in your book are not asexual?

  3. #3
    Sam English

    Re: The 2nd Half Of My Chapter 1 (thanks Bea and Gary)

    "The East Oberlin skyline hit Maegan’s gaze, and she took a deep sigh of relief." is a pretty frothy way of saying "When she saw the East Oberlin skyline, Maegen breathed a sigh of relief." It smacks of trying to hard to sound like a "writer". Same with "pulled...from the wealth..." and "Familiar sights hit her eyes..."

    You've used the word "hit" at least four times in this short excerpt.

    "He spoke in a deep and soothing tone that could sweet-talk the pants off any girl, except Maegan." I know what you were going for here, but this just kind of creeped me out.

    “What?” Joseph’s face had gone cod." I assume this is a typo?

    "Maegan looked Joseph in the eyes until he averted his gaze." 'Averting' one's gaze usually means there's more of a reason for it than just looking around... something's up. It reads like a set up for some explanation of why he might avert his gaze, but there's none. If you're trying to say he looked away, just say that.

    Hormones do not calm down around 17.

  4. #4
    Rogue Mutt

    Re: The 2nd Half Of My Chapter 1 (thanks Bea and Gary)

    Hormones do not calm down around 17.

    Yeah, more like 27 or even 37. (Or never for some people.)

  5. #5

    Re: The 2nd Half Of My Chapter 1 (thanks Bea and Gary)

    "The East Oberlin skyline hit Maegan’s gaze, and she took a deep sigh of relief."

    When you understand what is wrong with this opening sentence, your writing will improve.

    Just my opinion, of course.

  6. #6
    Janice W-D

    Re: The 2nd Half Of My Chapter 1 (thanks Bea and Gary)


    I agree with the other posters. Search old threads here. I recently posted a list of how-to write books, including some that will help you learn to write better dialogue and description.

    How and when did the four-year-old twins get in the house? Maegan got out of the car, walked to the front door holding a suitcase and her purse. Mom hugs her, pulls her into the house and returns to the kitchen. Maegan and Joseph chat in the living room and suddenly one of the twins jumps into her lap while the other twin plays on the floor.

    Did Mom leave two toddlers in the car alone for at least 15 minutes, and then Scotty beamed them into the house? (Star Trek.)


  7. #7
    Jay S

    Re: The 2nd Half Of My Chapter 1 (thanks Bea and Gary)

    Thank you all. This is all helpful feedback.

    @ Brandon Cleveland - I do see what your saying. I'm not gonna lie, I've deleted a lot of semicolons in favor of periods because semicolons scare me. I don't know why. I need to learn to be more accepting of them. :-)

    And, no, the Angels (in my novel) are not asexual. Angels are lowest form of "divine" beings and are the closest to humans.

    @Sam English - Hit, hit, hit, hit . . . yeah, I totally see that. I put so much "hitting" you'd think I were writing about a boxing match.

    I don't really see why that creeps you out...

    And yes, that was a silly typo.

    As for hormones, you're right. What I was *trying* to say is that boys are less hormonal at 17 then they are at 15, but clearly that's not what I did actually say.

    @ leslee - Elaboration would be a godsend.

    @ Janice W-D - Your advice was definitely the most helpful. I did not find your "list" and would love a link if you have the time to find it or have it on hand. Either way, thank you.

  8. #8
    L Bea

    Re: The 2nd Half Of My Chapter 1 (thanks Bea and Gary)

    Jay, darling~

    I got lost. The dialoge is stiff. I tried to follow but couldn't. I feel like you're taking the long way around to say what you want to say. Simplify. Just say it without trying to write it in a clever way. Does that make sense? Read your dialogue out loud. Is that really how people talk? Cut all of this in half. See what you come up with after that. MEAT.


  9. #9
    Janice W-D

    Re: The 2nd Half Of My Chapter 1 (thanks Bea and Gary)


    Here 'tis my list of how-to books:



  10. #10
    Jay S

    Re: The 2nd Half Of My Chapter 1 (thanks Bea and Gary)

    @ Janice W-D

    Thank you. You've been most helpful. I'll definitely give these a look.

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