NaNo story excerpt #2

This is a continuation from my last excerpt.

Let me know what you think, honestly! Rip it to shreds if you must.

Oh, and feel free to let me know how incredibly tacky it is that he’s consumed with thoughts of another woman while he’s burying his wife. I’m having trouble with the concept too, but if you read the entire story it makes a little more sense.

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Brian stood there with his hands on his daughter’s shoulders, looking out over her bowed head. He felt like he’d been thrown back in time and back to a day he knew he would never forget.

Their blond heads so perfectly matched as they tilted towards each other in an iron embrace. He remembered the day like it was yesterday, the picture as clear as the bright blue sky above his head. He knew right then—as sure as he was breathing that he loved Alyssa—who knows this stuff at eight? He wanted to scoff at himself but he didn’t have the energy. Who the hell knows what love is at eight? He couldn’t explain it to himself but he couldn’t deny it either.

Watching Alyssa and Ali cry over their father’s coffin on that day twenty-five years ago was so like today. There they stood, holding each other again, Ali’s hand reached out to Bobby’s but her arm around Alyssa, their heads together crying all over again. He glanced at their mother, Susan Parker and knew he’d not given her enough credit for what she’d done, raising her daughters alone, being widowed at a young age. Her girls growing up without a father, his friends, he remembered how hard it had been for them both. He wanted to cry too, and he did. He cried for his friends and for Alyssa, it hurt him to his soul to see the pain and tears in her eyes everyday.

Brian remembered growing up hating Susan. Every time she kept Alyssa from him, every time she wouldn’t let Alyssa see him or talk to him he cursed her, but now he had a better idea of what she had went through. They were just kids, he and Alyssa. Whadda ya know, Susan Parker had been right about Brian all along. All he did was hurt Alyssa in the end just as Susan had known he would.

For Brian it was just beginning. He looked again at Julie’s shining coffin glinting in the bright sun and wanted to kick himself for thinking about Alyssa on this day, the very day he had to put his wife in the ground. If Julie could hear his thoughts she would hate him, ironically enough so would Alyssa. Alyssa would never respect him, not after what he’d done to her and especially if she knew his true feelings now, Brian again had to force back his tears.

How did he get here? How did so many things change since that day? Nothing was what it should have been, but how could he regret? How could he—as he stood there with his daughter? Regret her? Regret his life to this point? Regret Julie? No, he didn’t, of course not, but regret Alyssa? Yes, there were regrets where Alyssa was concerned. He loved Erin with his whole heart; he couldn’t imagine his life without his beautiful daughter. He’d loved Julie too, but Alyssa was different and he knew it. He couldn’t explain it, just different than Julie. Alyssa held a part of his soul. To this day she still gripped it in her hands. That part of him had been missing in his life with Julie, the part he’d left behind with Alyssa when he’d decided to marry Julie.

Alyssa will always have it, even after she marries that jerk-off from Berkeley. Even then she’ll own a part of him. His stomach lurched at the thought of her with him, but what could he do. He’d given up on her; he’d walked away and given himself to Julie.

Is this what it felt like to Alyssa? Did she feel this sinking overwhelming sick feeling when she found out about him and Julie? Had she been living with it for fifteen years? Was her love for him equal to his for her? He couldn’t remember if he’d ever told her how much he loved her. Did I tell her? Did she know? Did that make everything harder for her? Did I tell Julie? Did Julie know how much I loved her? It’s too late to fix that—she’s gone—Julie is gone, Brian, Julie is dead—urgh! Did she know how important she was to me? Even after the hateful things he’d said he still cared for her—and now she’s dead.

What if Julie were here? What if Julie was here and Alyssa was in that coffin? Brian inhaled a loud gasp at the thought. He felt his chest tighten and tried to take a deep breath. Don’t, man—just get through this day and stop thinking about Alyssa, Christ, man—stop! He reached up and rubbed the sweat from his forehead.

Erin turned to look at him with red-rimmed eyes and a slight smile of support. “I love you, Daddy.”

Brian cupped her neck and kissed the top of her head as a tear rolled down his cheek. “I love you too, hunny.”

24 thoughts on “NaNo story excerpt #2

  • Wow, talk about conflict! Yeah, the thoughts about Julie vs. Alyssa seem a little tacky right there while he’s staring at the coffin. How about if he were to go to the cemetery the next day by himself or something like that? Or stay there by himself after everyone else has left? And have all those thoughts while alone in the cemetery?

    It seems a little callous of him to be wracked with thoughts of Alyssa right then, but hearts are weird places. And if he’s had this conflict going on in his head before — and we know it, because it’s come in an earlier chapter, then it might be okay here. Certainly it has a dramatic impact here and now that it wouldn’t have if he started thinking this way 3 months from now.

    And it MOST CERTAINLY has a dramatic impact. Sheesh.

  • This is the same chapter as the last excerpt, the very next scene- as a matter a fact.

    The main reason he’s thinking about Alyssa is because he just–just–found out she was engaged. Otherwise she might not of come to mind. Standing there watching her cry is bringing back memories of her father’s funeral and their childhood.
    Brian’s also troubled with Alyssa’s return to town. She’d moved away fifteen years before and had pretty much stayed away. Now that she’s back he’s reminded of his feelings and it’s creating serious conflict for him.

  • That clears it up and makes him not seem so callous. Good story, and I want to find out what happens next!

  • Poop! I Just lost everything I wrote. Hang on, I’ll be back! Dang it!

  • In the context of your story, Brian’s thoughts are inappropriate but not totally unrealistic.

    I’m enjoying your story and definitely want to read it when you’re finished.

    • This was my feeling too, inappropriate but not unrealistic. Besides that he now has the guilt of his own thoughts which just increases his inter conflict. Let’s just say, Brian’s a mess.

  • First, I want to say –“in an iron embrace”–is an excellent use of imagery.

    As for the whether to portray Brian in this light it depends on how you are trying to develop his character. If you are trying to establish that he is conflicted, then I think you have done a good job. The beginning of the scene paints him as calloused, but there is recovery at the end when he is thinking about Julie.

    This is the longest section of internal dialogue I have seen you write. As you begin to edit I would consider using as much brevity as possible without losing any of the elements of conflict. It’s a powerful scene but without dialogue it may run a little long.

    Example:
    He knew right then—as sure as he was breathing that he loved Alyssa—who knows this stuff at eight? He wanted to scoff at himself but he didn’t have the energy. Who the hell knows what love is at eight? He couldn’t explain it to himself but he couldn’t deny it either.

    Rewrite:
    As sure as he was breathing, he knew that he loved Alyssa. He couldn’t explain it, but he couldn’t deny it either. How could he understand love? He was only eight.

    I would also pull this section will keep the internal dialogue focused on the conflict of his emotions regarding the two women.

    …Brian remembered growing up hating Susan…
    This would work best as a flashback of an argument between Brian and the widow Parker. Add it elsewhere in the novel where you can use dialogue to express the emotional elements of a mother protecting her daughter and a young boy in love. It’s a great element, but I don’t know if it fits in this scene.

    • This might be one of the longest narrations without dialogue in this novel (so far) and writing narration isn’t something that comes easy for me. It seems scattered but I did that on purpose. I wanted to portray him as scattered at this moment. He’s exhausted, he hasn’t eaten in days and he’s grieving his wife whom he just found out was having an affair after what he thought was 15 years of a happy marriage.
      Throw Alyssa in the loop and that really messes him up.
      You can see where he starts to question everything in his life, especially after he finds out about Julie’s affair. He did -after all- choose Julie over Alyssa and now his world is coming down around his ears.
      I also tried to write it in his voice. Brian is usually pretty brash but here you can see he’s also very loving as he remembers his friends mourning their father.

      When he refers to falling in love with Alyssa at eight he’s trying to be a skeptic, he doesn’t want to believe it could happen but it did and what makes everything worse in his eyes is that he can’t explain it, he can’t make it logical. As a detective he takes things apart and breaks them down until he can understand them but with his feelings for Alyssa he can’t do that. It’s the unknown, which just irritates him.

      I could actually take Susan Parker out altogether. I only bring her up as another avenue of guilt for Brian. Also for a little background, she’s hardly mentioned throughout the story and she’s never actually in a scene. I may add it somewhere else.

      • The conflict and the guilt definately comes across in this peice. His thoughts are all over the place and now that I know it was intended that way it makes a lot more sense to me why you wrote it that way.

  • I PROMISE I AM NOT DRINKING – I’M JUST EXTREMELY TIRED TODAY.

    *This part didn’t paste*I think it was operator error. I seem to be too tired to think tonight. *

    I loved the way you played his feelings for one woman against the other to create the internal struggle and how this caused so many questions to arise concerning his past, current and future decisions. There is a lot of meat in this scene.

    Added to this the other information that we already know from the last scene and I can see how you have layered the subplots with the main plot to create a love story filled with conflict to propel the story forward. I don’t know how you keep it all straight. I am having problems enough with a simpler plot with very few subplots.

    There is so much depth in this story that I’m itching to see how you will bring it all to resolution in the end.

    I wish there was a place where we could post our complete drafts, so we could help each other through the rewrites. I have really enjoyed getting and giving feedback. I’m learning just as much through conversation as I have through practice and study.

    • He and Alyssa have a very interesting background. They spent the majority of their childhood together but just a couple of short months after Alyssa went away to college Brian married her best friend without telling her. Alyssa spends 15 years hating Brian and Julie but when her nephew is kidnapped (Precious Embrace-not in this story) Alyssa comes back to town to help her sister, who is still very good friends with Julie and Brian. Anew Embrace starts out when Alyssa moves back to town. She rekindles her friendship with Julie. Then she finds out Julie is having an affair. You can imagine how Alyssa feels about this considering Julie is married to the love of Alyssa’s life and cheating on him.
      It’s coming together now. I had trouble for a few days trying to figure out how to resolve everything but it just sort of worked itself out as I wrote. It’s very rough and needs a lot of detail still but I really like how it’s turning out. Brian goes through the biggest change but Alyssa learns some things along the way too.

    • I don’t see why we can’t share. I was looking at Google docs after Natasha mentioned it and it has a share feature. It’s just taking the time to sit down and read. I would love to read everyone’s stories.

      • Time is a big problem. Even for me. I haven’t had near as much reading time as I would like.

        We’ll figure something out. Maybe after the holidays. There is also a feature where you can post to WordPress and allow access to the page by password only. That is also an option we could consider.

        I’ll check out google.

        Anyway! Just to clear things up, I don’t mind long sections of narration or internal dialogue. I have a section in my book where about 1/4 of a chapter is internal dialogue. I was worried I would have to rewrite it, but after reading yours and seeing what you accomplished I think I will let mine stand.

      • The truth is I can’t judge. I haven’t read big enough chucks of this story to judge whether or not Brian’s rambling thoughts or confused in a obvious way or just confusing. Does this make sense?
        I can’t evaluate his character until I print and start reading. This is true for everything. It’s hard to understand a 500-or so excerpt when it’s taken out of context. This is a downfall of NaNo. I would normally write a couple of chapters then print and read, then fix some, then write more. When you’ve written so many words in such a short time it’s hard to remember everything.

  • OH! One more thing I forgot….

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!

    • Thank you! My mother reminded me of my birthday when she called me at 5am, which she does every year faithfully. I was born at 4:59 in the morning and she never lets me forget it.

  • The only problem with Google docs is the 500K limit per document. It wouldn’t accept my whole thing last night because it went over the limit. But if you don’t mind putting up chunks rather than the whole thiing Google docs is pretty good. Also as DS says we can do a password protected thing in WordPress (which I think we’re all using, right?)

    I agree that time is an issue for reviewing each others’ works. I wonder if folks provided an overview/summary of the whole thing and then asked for specific kinds of feedback on particular sections or chapters? Of course my big problem is coming up with a summary because I have little chunks, and not that much glue holding them together. Oh, yeah, and no real plot.

    It’s helpful to me to see Dayner’s overview of the whole story before commenting — I’d said earlier that I thought Brian was too callous at the funeral, but with the context in place now for me, it doesn’t seem that way. It all makes sense.

    There’s so much going on in the scene, though, that I might take Susan Parker out, or put her elsewhere. She kind of got in my way the first time I read it because I was concentrating on I like DS’s idea of a flashback.

    Sorry if I’m rambling here. The coffee is still brewing and I’m not all there (or here) yet.

    It’s your birthday??? How the hell do you have time to have a birthday with everything else you are doing?? HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    • We could make some rules about this, like, a chapter every week or two. I know that reviewing other stories has made me a better writer and editor. Also conversations like these are priceless. I learn more this way then I have in any class.
      We could do a book club sorta thing. Review a chapter or two at a time from one story within a time period then all comment and compare opinions.

      And don’t be confused, I don’t have time for a birthday. The biggest advantage is the fact that I don’t have to cook or clean anything today. 🙂

  • Sounds like a plan to me. I’d recommend that we not start that until January though. For some reason, December fills up with other stuff (!!) and January would be when we were making all those resolutions anyhow about going to the gym or making sure the refrigerator was clean or other such foolishness.

    • January sounds good. My gym visits will increase on December 1. I can feel my rear end getting bigger as I sit in this chair. Once the first draft is finished I will get back there and regularly.

      • Tell me about it. I got on the treadmill to walk today and couldn’t even finish the P-1 workout. So I’m steaming some veggies for lunch today.
        Brussel sprouts. Yum.

  • kathanink

    Dayner,
    I want to read this in depth, but I probably won’t get to it until next week. But I wanted you to know I’m still alive and I haven’t been ignoring you. 🙂

    Have a great Thanksgiving!!

    • Glad to see you’re still with us. I see your word count increase everyday so I know you’re writing feverishly before the holiday. Hope ‘The Bended Tree’ is being good to you.

      • kathanink

        I’m using the authority that comes from my gun and sherriff’s hat to whip it into submission! 🙂

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