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  1. #1
    DaBlaRR
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    Chapter 2 of my Novel

    This is the second chapter in my novel. The previous chapter this character (my MC's mother)... gone into a big argument with Christian her son, who despises her. They just moved to a new city to get away from a troubled life for both her and him.

    The first chapter you don't really know too much about her, but in the second chapter I take it from her POV right after the fight. Lot's of dialogue due to a phone convo. Your input is appreciated.


    CHAPTER 2 – DIANA SOLOMON

    Diana, just out of the shower, retrieved a towel off the rack to dry herself. She couldn’t help but think about the conversation she had had with Christian. Why must everything be a fight?

    Did she fail him so severely that all their communication had to be a confrontation? It wasn’t like she was overly strict with him; in fact, she always gave him his space. Maybe that was the problem.

    Even more troubling was the realization that it was hard to love someone who seemed to hate her so much.

    Getting ready to go wait tables at the strip club till 4am only added to her gloom. She sat at her dresser mirror looking at the makeup she was about to apply. She paused and dissected her own face with her eyes. She looked worn and tired and too aged for only being thirty-six-years-old. Her tired look was permanent and every wrinkle had its own story to tell.

    With aching sadness, she softly ran her fingers down her cheek, feeling a mask hiding something that no one but her knew was there. She slightly turned her head right and left, exposing her teeth, lamenting over their discoloration. They were yellow and seemed on the verge of rotting away. She picked up her brush and vigorously dragged through the knots in her wet, stiff, bleach-blonde hair.

    The phone rang and there was only one person she had given her number to. “Dammit Mom.”

    She put her brush down and half-heartedly walked over to the phone.

    “Hi Mom.”

    “Hi Di, it’s me.”

    “Miranda?”

    “Yeah, I had to get your number from your mother.”

    Diana grabbed her hair as if to pull it out. “I was planning on calling you but I have had so much…”

    “Save it, Di. Why didn’t you at least tell me you were leaving?”

    “Well, ****, all you would have done was talk me out of it as usual.”

    “You could have at least told me.”

    “It’s all for Christian.”

    “How are you going to fix your son when you’ve hardly been able to fix yourself?”

    “You know what, Miranda, please just let it be. This is why I left without getting your fricken permission.”

    “Ok, what’s done is done, I’m just concerned. I need to know, have you had any withdrawals or cravings?”

    “What the hell, Miranda? I said this is about Christian. You know I haven’t touched ice in twenty-six months.”

    “I wasn’t talking about meth. Anyways, have you told him yet?”

    “He wouldn’t care in the least.”

    “Did you find a new doctor?”

    “I’m not going to chemo, if that’s what you mean.”

    “Did you not just tell me this was about Christian?”

    “What’s your point?”

    “Well it sounds like you’re giving up.”

    “Just because you’re my sponsor doesn’t mean you know what’s best for me.”

    “I was your sponsor, you mean. I’m here as your friend, as I’ve always been.”

    “Look, I appreciate everything, Miranda, all you’ve done for me, but what is it you want from me now?”

    “Have you had a drink?”

    “I’m a meth addict, not an alcoholic. Why does it feel like you are interrogating me?”

    “That concerns me right there.”

    “I’m not your concern. If I had a drink or not, it’s all over for me now, anyway.”

    “Don’t say that, you have options. Don’t give up.”

    “Well I give up!”

    Diana slammed the phone down. She reached for it again, but pulled her hand back.

    She walked over to her night table, sat on the edge of the bed and opened the drawer. There lay an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels. She stared at the amber liquid in the bottle as if she were locking eyes with her greatest enemy or best friend; depending on which day it was. She grasped the bottle with both hands, closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

    She cracked it open and put it up to her nose. She smelled the comforting aroma of numbness. She put the bottle to her mouth and tilted her head back quickly, longing for that lingering burn in her throat.

    However, as soon as the soothing, warm liquid filled her mouth, she jumped up and ran to the bathroom, bottle in hand. She spat the whiskey into the sink. She was so close to befriending her worst enemy once again.

    She put the bottle down on the counter and wiped her mouth in a hand towel and began to cry. Turning back to the sink, she looked at the bottle and then the drain.

    She wiped the tears from her eyes, picked up the bottle and returned to her night table to put it back in the drawer and resume her position in front of the dresser mirror. Frustrated, she began to rip through her knotted hair with her brush again, whispering, “I’m not an alcoholic.”



  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
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    She paused and dissected her own face with her eyes.
    Dissected makes it sound like she cut her face open. Examined would be better.

  3. #3
    DaBlaRR
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Mutt View Post
    Dissected makes it sound like she cut her face open. Examined would be better.
    lol... ok thanks.. and noted.

  4. #4
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    Diana, just out of the shower, retrieved a towel off the rack to dry herself. She couldn’t help but think about the conversation she had had with Christian. Why must everything be a fight?
    Too dispassionate. You're reporting instead of placing the reader into the scene. Trim and squeeze the fat and you get:

    As she toweled herself dry, Diana thought back to the conversation with Christian and sighed. Why must everything be a fight?

    Do we really need all the niggling details of things she does without thought? Make implication work for you. We don't care if she showered, bathed, or took a whore's bath with a washcloth. It's what she's thinking about that matters.
    Getting ready to go wait tables at the strip club till 4am only added to her gloom
    Does the reader care where she works, at this point? Won't they notice when people begin tasking off their clothing? This line is you telling the reader about her. But she's not thinking asbout where she's going to work, or even what time she gets off (something else we'll learn when she finishes the nite (and if we don't stay with her till closing the time she quits is irrelevant). So it boils down to:

    Getting ready to go wait tables only added to her gloom
    The fewer words you use to make a point the faster the reading goes, and the more exciting the story. Why plod when you can run?
    She sat at her dresser mirror looking at the makeup she was about to apply. She paused and dissected her own face with her eyes. She looked worn and tired and too aged for only being thirty-six-years-old. Her tired look was permanent and every wrinkle had its own story to tell.
    Again, this is you talking to the reader about her. But that's not story, it's a report by a dispassionate outsider—informing, not entertaining.

    Fair is fair. It's her story. So what matters to her, in the moment she calls now, is what matters to a reader. If she looks in the mirror, not pleased with what she sees, that matters to her. But studying her makeup? She uses it every day. She no more spends time focused on it than you study your toothbrush for more than its condition.

    Your current approach, that of explaining the story to the reader is not nearly as effective as making the reader feel they're living the scene in real-time, as the protagonist, because what you're doing at the moment is factual. But her viewpoint is emotional. Facts inform, but emotion entertains. And in the end, aren't we reading fiction to be entertained?

    You might want to re-read this article. It's the one I suggested before. It has the power to place the reader into the story as a participant.

    As another point, look at your dialog and think about your own conversations. You don't just exchange sentences. You hesitate, you rephrase, you interrupt, and do all the human things with which we convey emotion. How we say something matters just as much as what we say. Including that also helps the reader keep track of whose turn it is to talk.

    One of the two characters is the protagonist. And it's that character we care about. So if she reacts to something that's said, and must decide how to phrase her response so as to have a desired effect, the reader must know that. If not, she's not our protagonist, just a plot device.

    In short, if we're to take her as real she has to behave as a real person does.

  5. #5
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    I really like how Jay changed the first couple sentences. It read kind of strange to me, but I didn't know how to fix it. I also agree with Jay about adding some actions to the dialogue. There's so much dialogue that, even though there were hints as to who said what, I almost got mixed up on whose turn it is. If you don't feel any action would fit into the dialogue, try adding a few "said Diana" and "Miranda said" to it, just to help the reader keep track. The less effort it takes to understand a story, the more I enjoy reading it.

    I don't agree with Jay about her not thinking about working at a strip club until 4a.m. or studying her own face. Some people are emotional about their job and think about when they get off, and I know I sometimes stop to stare at or study something I've already seen a thousand times (yes, including my face). Sometimes you just notice something. If it adds to her emotions, which at this point helps build her character, then I don't see harm in adding it . . . if it's done right. As it is now, the paragraph reads a little awkward to me. I'll do my best to dissect what I think is wrong and can be fixed.

    Getting ready to go wait tables at the strip club till 4am only added to her gloom.
    This reads a little odd. The word "go" doesn't need to be there. Unnecessary words can make a sentence hard to read, so I try to avoid them. If you also drop out the "till 4am" and "only," I think the sentence would read more smoothly and have more of an emotional "punch". You should probably add a little of her hate for her job, too. Obviously she doesn't like it, but if you said, for example, that it made her feel more worthless then I think this sentence would have more relevance to the story. If you want to mention the hours of her work, you can have her look at a clock or watch (how often do you check the time when getting ready for work?). If she's getting ready for work, as you now implied, readers will know she has night shift. If you mention it being dark or getting there somewhere in the story, you don't even have to say whether it's a.m. or p.m.. You can even just say something like, "Having to work all night at the strip club didn't make things better."

    She sat at her dresser mirror looking at the makeup she was about to apply.
    Using "Staring" instead of "looking" makes more sense. Looking implies she's actively looking for or at something. Staring implies that she's just staring at it without doing anything. I also think you can drop the "she was about to apply" and just say "her makeup," because if she's sitting in front of a dresser mirror staring at makeup, we already get the idea she's about to apply it. Of course, if she's not staring at it and is about to put it on, you can drop the "looking at the makeup" bit and just put in the action of her starting to apply it (but she pauses, of course).

    She paused and dissected her own face with her eyes
    She paused doing what? Staring at her makeup? Applying it? This needs an intro, like maybe she grabbed her lipstick and was about to apply it when she noticed how old she looked in the mirror. Also, you can drop "with her eyes" and "own". We already know it's her own face she's staring at, and unless she's blind, we already assume she sees with her eyes unless otherwise noted. Rogue Mutt already mentioned changing the word "dissected," which I completely agree with.

    She looked worn and tired and too aged for only being thirty-six-years-old.
    Drop the "years-old," it sounds more grown-up that way. I'd also suggest you put commas following "worn" and "tired," but that's just me. I read stuff better if there are commas in a string of "ands."

    Her tired look was permanent and every wrinkle had its own story to tell.
    Again, I think this can be improved. Wrinkles aren't scars, where every one could be caused by a different incident. Wrinkles normally come several at a time, so how could every one have a story to tell? Maybe you could just say something like, "Her tired look and wrinkles were permanent and told a depressing story.

    In general, you don't want to start too many sentences with a noun or pronoun, especially if it's the same one. Nearly every sentence in this paragraph starts with "she." Try mixing it up with adverbs and actions. I used to make the same mistake all the time, and I still find it difficult to keep from doing this, but trust me when I say your writing will vastly improve just by this one change!

    Overall I'd say your writing is great! You're good at adding an emotional depth to her, which is something I struggle with, and the storyline itself is interesting and seems well-plotted out. Keep at it!
    Last edited by Elven Candy; 01-21-2016 at 01:10 AM.

  6. #6
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    Some people are emotional about their job and think about when they get off, and I know I sometimes stop to stare at or study something I've already seen a thousand times
    To clarify: You're right that people do. But there always must be a reason for a line. It may develop character, move the plot, or set the scene. But in that case we don't know what motivated her to think about it, so it was a random observation, placed for informational purposes. The reader will know that, so it serves to slow the narrative.

  7. #7
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    Ah, I see. You're saying DaBlaRR needs to add a reason for her to think about it. Makes sense. I've had to delete many things I wanted to put in my story for that very reason (or rewrite the entire scene to include something necessary, but totally out of place as-is).

  8. #8
    DaBlaRR
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    Giving her a reason to think about it is way too much information way too early. The fact she is hesitant to put on her make up, I am trying to show that she is not motivated to even bother and the simple task is not so simple due to her lack of motivation. It's early in the story. So that's why I was, I guess vague about her just staring at her make up.

  9. #9
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    Ah, so she's noticing how "ugly" she is because she's thinking, "What's the point of using make-up?" Makes sense, but I didn't know that until you told me just now. I would probably convey that information by getting inside the character's head, like, "Why was she even bothering with make-up? It couldn't eliminate her past or the look of an old woman that was permanently etched on her face." As a writer, you need to figure out what information is relevant to the story and when, what you can eliminate from the story, what information you need to spell out to the readers, and what information you need to let them figure out (such as when you said "her own face with her eyes). It's a difficult skill to learn, but I'm learning it and it's actually kind of fun. Find what works for you and run with it!

    You don't have to give a lot of information about why she's thinking about her job, just enough to make it relevant to the scene. You can, for example, have her thinking about the strain it adds to her relationship with her son. You can also expound upon the preceding sentence that mentions she's concerned about it being hard to love him. There's a lot of potential there and you just sort of dropped it (not saying that was a bad choice, just that you can expand on it if you want to). Don't be afraid to think outside the box and rearrange the entire scene--I know I've done that a few times!

    Learning all the "rules" of writing can be frustrating and difficult, but you're already miles ahead of where I started. Again, I think this story is well made and has a lot of interesting stuff in it. Keep up the good work, and never give up!

  10. #10
    DaBlaRR
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greenstein View Post
    Too dispassionate. You're reporting instead of placing the reader into the scene. Trim and squeeze the fat and you get:

    As she toweled herself dry, Diana thought back to the conversation with Christian and sighed. Why must everything be a fight?

    Thanks Jay. I took your advice on this one and changed it up.

    Do we really need all the niggling details of things she does without thought? Make implication work for you. We don't care if she showered, bathed, or took a whore's bath with a washcloth. It's what she's thinking about that matters.Does the reader care where she works, at this point? Won't they notice when people begin tasking off their clothing? This line is you telling the reader about her. But she's not thinking asbout where she's going to work, or even what time she gets off (something else we'll learn when she finishes the nite (and if we don't stay with her till closing the time she quits is irrelevant). So it boils down to:

    Getting ready to go wait tables only added to her gloom
    The fewer words you use to make a point the faster the reading goes, and the more exciting the story. Why plod when you can run?Again, this is you talking to the reader about her. But that's not story, it's a report by a dispassionate outsider—informing, not entertaining.

    Actually I disagree with this one. While I changed it up a bit. It is important where she works and her choice of job. It shows a lot about the woman.

    Fair is fair. It's her story. So what matters to her, in the moment she calls now, is what matters to a reader. If she looks in the mirror, not pleased with what she sees, that matters to her. But studying her makeup? She uses it every day. She no more spends time focused on it than you study your toothbrush for more than its condition.

    Your current approach, that of explaining the story to the reader is not nearly as effective as making the reader feel they're living the scene in real-time, as the protagonist, because what you're doing at the moment is factual. But her viewpoint is emotional. Facts inform, but emotion entertains. And in the end, aren't we reading fiction to be entertained?

    The studying the make up part, I am portraying that she is seeing no point with that every day routine. She is losing all meaning or reasons in her life and she is giving up on life. So she doesn't see the point of little things like makeup

    You might want to re-read this article. It's the one I suggested before. It has the power to place the reader into the story as a participant.

    As another point, look at your dialog and think about your own conversations. You don't just exchange sentences. You hesitate, you rephrase, you interrupt, and do all the human things with which we convey emotion. How we say something matters just as much as what we say. Including that also helps the reader keep track of whose turn it is to talk.

    Thanks. I did take your advice on this one. I was going to touch up the dialogue part of this scene and took your suggestions and used it.

    One of the two characters is the protagonist. And it's that character we care about. So if she reacts to something that's said, and must decide how to phrase her response so as to have a desired effect, the reader must know that. If not, she's not our protagonist, just a plot device.

    Neither of them are the protagonist. They are very important part of the actual protagonists life though and actually has a big part in why he is what he is.

    In short, if we're to take her as real she has to behave as a real person does.
    argh all that and I'm getting errors... I hope whatever I wrote above posts.


    Thanks as always for your input Jay.
    Last edited by DaBlaRR; 01-21-2016 at 03:19 PM.

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