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  1. #1
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    This is the beginning of my novel. Looking to hook the reader in.

    ďI was considering this to be a big problem.Ē

    I am completely absorbed in the drama of the situation I find myself in. I think my wife and my son could die. I think my son will be completely paralyzed at the age of 15. My stomach is in knots, and I haven't been able to eat. I canít sleep without horrific thoughts entering into my head. I canít think about anything else. I canít go to work. I canít deal with people. I canít remove myself from this state of panic.
    Imagine that you have been married for 17 years with a fifteen year old son. Imagine you are successful and happy with your life. Then imagine three months ago some of the best doctors in the country told you your wife has to have a large kidney tumor removed immediately. The reason the kidney tumor must be removed right away is so she can recover enough to be able to endure a second surgery where her entire pancreas will be removed. There are many large tumors in that organ as well. While grappling with the proposition of your wife undergoing two major surgeries, which would ultimately leave her living without a pancreas, which is possible to do, imagine that you encountered a much larger problem. If you can imagine your wife having a kidney tumor removed and then her entire pancreas removed to not be your biggest problem, than you probably can imagine having some big problems.

    At the same time your wife is going through her own panic about what is happening to her, your teenage son is diagnosed with a brain tumor and a spinal tumor. Imagine his brain tumor being described as a "big one,Ē and imagine his spinal tumor being described as the "biggest spinal tumor they had ever seen." Imagine the doctors telling you there is a high probability that your son will be totally paralyzed. Imagine receiving input from another specialist that your 15 year old boy, your baby, the love of your life, has tumors that are inoperable. If you can imagine these things, which many people cannot unless these kinds of things have happened to them, then you can imagine what itís like to be me in September of 2010. These problems my family is experiencing are the realities of what is happening in my life.
    These problems are real because they are actually occurring, but I also have another problem that is just as real. This other problem is with me and how I am dealing with the situation. The other problem is how I am reacting to the problems with my family. I am not being the strong confident man I need to be, I want to be. I am not being the man who handles these problems for my family. I am not being the man who figures a way out of this, and even if I can't figure a way out of this, I am not being the man my family needs me to be. I am being a weak, fragile, nervous wreck, and that is not helping anybody.
    My son, Jesseís, problems are more of an immediate priority. My wife, Cathy, at least has a prognosis where she can survive. I left work two weeks ago to have Jesse checked out by the doctors at the National Cancer Institute. Those doctors have given me their opinions and now I have standing in front of my house with the phone in my hand thinking about who to call next. I need someone to point me in the right direction. I need advice from someone more qualified than me. My friends donít know what to say to me. My friends want to help, but I can tell they are uncomfortable talking to me about it, I can feel that. I can tell that anyone who hears about this is thankful it is not happening to them. People shiver at the thought of receiving this kind of news. People donít even want to think that this kind of thing could ever touch their lives. I am sure my friends are hugging their own children and thanking God they are not me. My family gets upset when I call them because they love Jesse too. They want to do anything they can to help, but they donít know what to do either. I know my parents and my brother and sisters are feeling my pain, but not how I feel it.
    This kind of pain is foreign to me. I thought I had suffered in the past. I thought I always had more difficulties in my life than most people. This is different. This pain wonít let go of me, not for a minute. I lie awake at night trying to watch the TV, but I can only watch certain shows. Seinfeld is light and doesnít draw me into my troubles as much. I used to always watch the news and political channels. I see the Dow Jones plummeting, and I think who gives a ****. I listen to commentators talk about how to fix the country, and I canít believe people have so much passion and energy trying to defend their points. Donít they know how silly they are? Donít they know they should be happy that they are healthy and they should celebrate every moment that their family is not being attacked by tumors? I stare at the dark wall next to my bed in the middle of the night and just try to focus on the wall. I canít stop the thoughts from coming in. The thoughts are screaming at me. Your son is going to be paralyzed! You have to tell him that! I scream back at my thoughts. No! I will find someone that can fix him. You donít know who youíre dealing with! **** you thoughts! Shut the **** up!
    People are telling me everything will be OK. What the hell do they know? They werenít there when I spoke to the doctors or they would be just as horrified as me. People are telling me they are praying for me. Iím praying too. Please, please God, help Jesse. I know Iím a Jew who hasnít gone to temple in over thirty years, but my wife goes to church every Sunday, and my son goes to a Catholic high school, thatís got to count for something. Iíve never hurt a soul in my entire life. I try to help everyone I know. You know Iím a good man. Please help me God. Havenít I suffered enough in this life? Iíve walked through twenty years of surgeries with Cathy. Iíve had a tougher childhood than anyone I know. Iíve had to pick myself up and reinvent myself over and over again in this life. Am I supposed to undergo the most unbearable suffering imaginable? Is that who Iím supposed to be, the man who has to endure anything?
    Cathy and I are both teachers and the school year just started. I canít imagine going in to work right now and planning lessons, grading papers, and trying to act enthusiastic about teaching. I canít even fathom the idea of getting absorbed in all that while I am absorbed in all this. I am afraid I will lose my job if I donít go back soon. How long can I stay out of work without losing my job? I need the medical benefits. I canít lose my job. How can I go in though? How can I face anyone without crying? A few months ago, I was telling my friends at work about how Cathy might have to have her pancreas removed. They were all telling me how sorry they were. Now I am telling them about my sonís crisis. It doesnít even sound believable. Who has these kinds of medical problems? I feel like I am double dipped in ****.
    Iím like a scared kid, and I need an adult to talk to, but there are no adults. People have always shared their opinions about what I should or shouldnít do, but not this time. I canít remember a time in my life when there wasnít at least one person willing to give advice to me. No one I know would dare make a declaration about what the right thing to do is here. The choice of who operates on Jesse is mine and Cathyís. I have not met a doctor who feels confident about handling this thing yet. There must be some genius doctor in this world that can make me feel confident that I am giving Jesse his best possible shot at a positive outcome. We have spent twenty years reading the poker faces of doctors, and so far our decisions about who to use have been perfect, and I mean perfect. I can tell when doctors know what to do and when they donít. Cathy has had dozens of serious surgeries, and every single one of them has worked out flawlessly. She has retained almost perfect health over all these years, but even Cathy has never had a prognosis like this one given to Jesse. I canít help thinking that Cathy and I have been walking in between the raindrops for too long, and we are about to get really wet.



  2. #2
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    Every word of this is "telling", which makes it boring as hell because nowhere do you "show" a person interacting with another, nowhere do you show a setting, show the wife or son reacting to the doctors' dire prognoses, show anything at all. It's a giant cerebral "what if" posed by a faceless, nameless, disconnected voice. The prose style isn't bad, but the narrative itself is flat and uninspired. If this is an experimental voice you're trying out, it's not working. If you seriously believe this approach will engage a reader, you should quit now and pick up on a few books about creative writing (Sol Stein's "Stein on Writing" comes to mind).

    Sorry, my opinion.

  3. #3
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    This is a novel about how a person reacts to problems that life poses. It is really a biography of a true story, and this incident happens much late in the novel.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Keith .'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greg winick View Post
    This is a novel about how a person reacts to problems that life poses. It is really a biography of a true story, and this incident happens much late in the novel.
    The thread title says it's the beginning. Besides, it doesn't matter. I agree with every word of Jayce's post. It's about the writing. Buckle down and work on your craft. The book Jayce recommends is an excellent place to start. Luck.
    ________________________________________________

    People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.
    - Bob Dylan

  5. #5
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    If the book never leaves the perspective of the narrator, how do I show other's reactions. The point of the book is to show one person's reactions and interpretations of the things that happen. I realize that you can't get that from this short excerpt.

  6. #6
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    Are you sure you want this to be a novel, greg?

    (I hope this isn't your story! If so, you have my sympathies.)

    *_*

  7. #7
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    Please, please, before you proceed with this, go to the library, find the autobiography section, and peruse at random. Read the first pages, not for entertainment but with an eye toward structure and methodology, how the narrator (the "I") brings the world around him to life, how he brings other characters in, revealing their emotions and reactions without actually being inside their heads. As you're doing it now, you're limiting yourself to a sliver of the world you're trying to create.

    Get Sol Stein's book and learn about point of view. Or Google it.

    I said your writing style wasn't bad. Actually, it's pretty good. You just gotta take the blinders off.

    Good luck.

  8. #8
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    I don't think you understand what this is. This is a true story. A story about a man who was abandoned by his parents at age 14, and went on to open up make millions in business. The premise of this novel is to show how whatever the external circumstances are, we have a choice in how we react. I wanted to bring the reader to a point where my external circumstances seemed impossible and unbearable. Then I take them through my life where often the circumstances presented did not allow the character, me, to succeed in acquiring the desired result. I use these concepts throughout my novel to achieve my goals, and then I am presented with an impossible task; that of saving my wife and son. But again, this is not a fictional novel, and it is designed to teach a very specific concept. I am an English teacher, but I am not aspiring to be a writer. I am only trying to tell my story.

  9. #9
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    Also, the concepts presented in my novel do not allow me to get into the heads of other characters. I am relegated to my own perspective because that is what the novel is essentially about, being restricted to ones own perspective.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by greg winick View Post
    I don't think you understand what this is.
    So...this is a novel. But it's not a "fictional" novel. It's also a biography of a true story....your story.

    You're right. I don't understand what this is.

    *_*

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