Thursday, November 13, 2008

Well That's a Relief

(This is post #333! As three is my lucky number, I expect big things.)

Last night I finished Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint, and while it wasn't the most fascinating writing book I've read, it had some valuable insights. Most importantly, to me, it confirmed that the structure I'm using for my current novel is valid.

I writing with multiple POV (point of view) - the father, the daughter, and the widow - plus I'm including occasional articles from the local paper to provide facts about the case. Well, Ms. Kress includes this very structure as one way to do multiple POV.

*wipes forehead* Phew!

A couple friends who are participating in NaNo have included excerpts from their current projects, and while I've been tempted to share, I haven't been able to figure out which passage is best. It probably would've been easier if I selected one scene each day, but now I have 88 pages to choose from.

Let's see... *peruses Word document*

Here's something I wrote yesterday. It's a little long, but I hope you enjoy it.

*****

Music drifted through a door on the opposite wall. The lonesome notes wrapped around Becca's heart and squeezed. She wished more than anything that she could be out there, sitting next to Justin. Soon the music faded and Reverend Kelly's voice filtered into the room. His words were hard to understand, so Becca let the cadence carry her.

Janet reached for Becca's hand and laced her fingers through hers.

They sat in silence until the music began again.

"We should go," Janet whispered.

They crept out the door and checked to make sure no one was watching. People were still seated in the chapel, their backs to them. Becca spotted Justin's dark head in the front row, and assumed the other dark heads were his uncle and grandfather. There were only about thirty people, much fewer than she assumed would be there, and the heaviness in her chest returned.

Janet tugged her arm. "Let's go, Becca."

They tip-toed down the stairs and hurried through the wind to the car. The weather had turned in the past couple days and fallen leaves swirled on the sidewalk. Janet turned up the heat and they waited for the air to warm them.

"We can go ahead to the cemetery. When the hearse arrives, we can get close enough to watch from the car." Janet peered at Becca. "Do you want to get some hot chocolate on the way?"

Becca nodded. She didn't really want anything sweet, but something to occupy her hands would be good. She knew her mom was just trying to keep her busy, to keep her mind off the funeral and everything that went with it, and she appreciated the effort. She was still a little surprised her mom agreed to take her in the first place. "Thanks, Mom."

"It's no problem. That coffee shop just before the bridge isn't too far out of the way."

"No, I mean for this." Becca waved her hands at the church. "For bringing me, for coming with me. I know it's not easy for you either."

Janet's eyes softened and her lips trembled. "No, it's not easy." She studied Becca for a moment, then wiped at her eyes and put the car in gear. "Let's get going before the service ends."

Neither spoke as Janet drove the short blocks to the coffee shop. She pulled into the parking lot and parked near the front door. "I'll just run inside. Is hot chocolate okay?"

Becca nodded.

Janet returned a few minutes later, a paper cup in each hand. She set them on the roof to open the door, then handed them to Becca. "They've already got the Christmas flavors in there. Can you believe it? It's not even Halloween."

Becca mumured a non-answer then sipped her drink. It burned her tongue, scorched its way down her throat. She set it in the cupholder between their seats and stared out the window.

Janet turned onto the road and headed back the way they came.

They drove through town in silence. Becca stared at the familiar sights as if seeing them for the first time. When they passed the church, people were walking out the front doors and heading towards their cars. Becca scanned the faces for Justin but didn't see him. An involuntary shudder passed through her. She hadn't left the house since the attack and suddenly the town she'd known since she was a kid looked darker, more menacing. The store where she used to buy candy, the park where all the neighbor kids would play, all of it was changed. The violence she thought would never touch her had forced it's way into her life and now nothing seemed the same.

The cemetery gates were open and Janet turned the car onto the single lane road. Gravel crunched beneath the tires.

Becca rolled her window down a crack and breathed in the smell of freshly cut grass. The cool air chilled her nose but she left the window open. Nearby, someone was burning leaves, and the sharp pungent smoke mingled with the bits of nature fighting for life in the grips of fall. Soon the frost would come and everything would turn brown, but for now the cemetary still resembled a summer park.

"That tent is probably where they'll bury him." Janet pointed at a blue tent stretched above the earth along the southermost boundary. "Let's wait on the other end until they arrive." The car rolled along the path through gleaming headstones with recent dates, then passed those that had long been forgotten, the names barely legible through weeds and decay. "They'll assume we're here visiting a relative."

Becca stared at the tent in the review mirror. So strange that in one short week – less than a week, really – Justin's dad was dead and would soon be buried. If she focused on it just being his dad, she could almost pretend she'd had nothing to do with his death.

Janet turned off the car. "Let me know if you get cold."

Becca felt numb, but she knew that wasn't what her mother meant. "Mmm-hmm." She took a sip of her hot chocolate and tried to concentrate on its warmth, its sweetness. Despite all that had happened, there were still little things that were good, small sparks of happiness that wouldn't let her sink lower than she already was.

*****

40 comments:

Janna Qualman said...

"...she could almost pretend she'd had nothing to do with his death."

Holy mackeral! Tell me more!

Great job.

Robin said...

(He Robin) You've got me!!! I want to read it when you're through with it.

spyscribbler said...

I love the lonesome notes. I kinda missed the part about what this is about. I know you told me before, but I've been self-absorbed and forgetful lately. Can you tell me again so I can read it in context?

(I managed 3800 words last night!)

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Janna and Robin. :)

Melanie Avila said...

Spy, because I'm lazy, can I provide you with the link?

http://melanieavila.blogspot.com/2008/10/my-next-story.html

Basically, father kills naked intruder attacking his daughter, turns out intruder is next-door neighbor and man's best friend. Trouble ensues. And now the daughter is in love with the dead man's son.

WendyCinNYC said...

Nice job, Melanie! I'm excited to read more sometime.

Turkey Lurkey said...

Ohhh! I like it! Now I want to know what she did to kill the father. Nicely done! Thanks for sharing this.

Turkey Lurkey said...

Just read your comment. Now I know. :)

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Wendy. :)

Melanie Avila said...

Turkey, she really isn't at fault, but I'm playing into the guilt some women feel when they are victims of a crime.

Mary B said...

Nicely done. interesting twist.

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Mary.

Jenna said...

Very nice Mel!

Rachel Burton said...

Thanks for sharing your work! Great voice. Well done setting the mood and scene. And I like the foreshadowing of "pretend she had nothing to do with it." (actually, it may not be foreshadowing at this point in the narrative, but it made me curious about the story!)

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Jenna!

Melanie Avila said...

Rachel, it didn't occur to me until people started posting that this could be seen as foreshadowing. It's actually the first time she's admitted her feelings of guilt, even if it's only to herself.

spyscribbler said...

Wow, okay, now I really love it. That's intense. Wonderful intense, I mean.

It's great, Melanie. A real gut-grabber.

Melanie Avila said...

Spy, I need to perch you on my shoulder when I write. You're very encouraging. :)

It's Only Me said...

Melanie, you paint a very descriptive picture with your words. I even *heard* the crunching gravel as they drove into the cemetery. I bet if you would have wrote about a bouquet of roses, I would have actually smelled them.

I can't wait to see where this story goes.

Penguin said...

I agree, I will want to read this when you are done. It will be good to read something that keeps me hanging on the words.
It will sure beat what I normally read.

Melanie Avila said...

Awww, it'sonlyme, thanks. :)

Melanie Avila said...

Penguin, I'll let you in on a secret. The cemetery is the one on Fruitport Road near the country club. And the bridge, yeah it's THE bridge. :)

Penguin said...

I love that bridge.......It feels like you are flying when you jump off of it.

Robin said...

I'm practicing my "I knew Melanie when she was famous" speech that I'll give to reporters when this is published. I have the first part, "I was Melanie's bloggy friend in the old days. Yeah. When she and Ibis were in Mexico. She used to just 'run things by me' every so often to see if they'd work. I guess you could say I'm her special muse. Just me and Spyscribbler, Janna, Turkey Lurkey, Wendy, Rachel, It's only me, and Penguin."

Seriously, Melanie, I love it. This really caught the stilted relationship between a teenage girl and her mom. Her mom tries to nurture and feed her, and she appreciates it, but she has so much going on inside that is private, and can't give her mom a ton of info. I love it. Terrific. I knew you when.

Melanie Avila said...

Penguin, I never had the nerve.

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, good grief. You're going to make me all weepy. Just for that, I'm feeling generous.

Here's later in the scene, at the end of the chapter as they're leaving:

Becca hooked her fingers over the open window, looking for Justin. He was probably still under the tent with his family, near his dad. She strained her eyes and finally saw him standing alone at the corner of the tent. He raised his head and looked straight at her. He looked startled to see her there, then confused, then finally his eyes crinkled ever so slightly and his lips curled into a small smile. Leaving her hand on the cold metal, she lifted her fingers and smiled back.

The car reached the end of the path and Janet accelerated through the cemetery gates. "Did you see anyone?"

Becca sighed and leaned back against the seat. "No."

Melanie Avila said...

Oh, Robin, I forgot to say that coming from you that's an EXTREME compliment. (she's a child psychiatrist. or psychologist? I can't keep those straight.)

And, this girl gets sent to one so I might really need your input.

Robin said...

Ha! I love that part! It's so true! It's life and death to the kid but she can't tell her mom.

I'm a psychiatrist. We're the ones with the useless training like putting our fingers up people's butts, or drawing blood from people's toe veins, that has nothing to do with talking to children.

I'd be happy to be a consultant! :)

Janet said...

Nicely written.

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, very cool. I'll let you know when I get there. btw, I've sent you emails to the address you've given me but never hear back. Is there a bottomless vortex that eats your emails?

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Janet. :)

spyscribbler said...

ROFLMAO! Robin, you sure can do a visual. I was going to say something to Melanie, but it fell completely out of my head when you described the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

Melanie Avila said...

Same here. ;P

Robin said...

The simplest explanations are so often the best, don't you think? :)

I'm going to check my spam, Melanie. I've never gotten a Melanie e mail. Are you sure you e mailed to...hands over eyes you stalkers and psychokillers....drshoechick@aol.com? I'll check now.

Robin said...

OK. I see the problem. You sent the mail to "drJEWchick" by mistake.

Only kidding. I saw nothing in spam. I don't know what's happening. I want mail! Can you try again? Pretty please?

w.v. today is "marbatio". Is that a character from your book? If you don't take it, I will.

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, Marbatio is all yours. He better have a certain habit.

I just resent two messages to you. I hope they get there.

Robin said...

They never got to me! Sadness. I'm going to explore the problem.....

Robin said...

Found them! Tee hee!

Anonymous said...

Holy crap, Mel! Is this a first draft? Your writing just gets better and better (from a mechanical perspective, I mean). As for the story, I'm fascinated and want more. What a cool plot you've got going.

I'm so impressed.

jesxxx

Melanie Avila said...

Aww, Jes. You make me blush. Yeah, this is pretty much how it came out of me. I couldn't think of the word tent while I was writing so I used tarp instead, but otherwise, yeah, first draft.