March 26, 2008

Musing Clarity ©

I read through Sorrels piece again, I mentioned him previously. In "How to Start Smart" he has a section, Never the Same..., he says not to start a short story with the beginning. To avoid the mundane details of your character's daily lives.

Sorrels goes on to tell us to start the short story close to the end. Reader seduction, so to speak. Give the reader the goods in the beginning as a lure to read on. Spark interest in the beginning and entice with the promise that 'things will never be the same'.

So, obviously, I'm not starting at the beginning. I got that much right. I think there is detail, but I don't think it's mundane. I don't think things will ever be the same, especially between these two characters.

Continued revisions on draft one:

"Two years!" A familiar voice broke the dark silence. I threw my keys onto the sofa table, "Pam, you're awake?" I closed the door and reached for the light switch. "Don't turn them on!" Her voice gargled.

The room reeked of smoke. There was just enough moonlight peering through the blinds for me to see smoke hovering around her. I could taste it as if I were smoking myself. The dry, chalky remnants lingered in my mouth. I lifted the window and turned on the fan.

Moonlight streamed in and my eyes welcomed it. I glanced at the picture wall above her head. The pictures were cockeyed and some were missing. I looked back at her. I could see her pale face, her green eyes were red, glowing staring at me. "You've been with her for two long years."

She took a long drag off her cigarette. The cherry lit up her face. She looked young for her 45 years. Reaching for the ashtray, a piece of her long bleach blond hair fell from behind her ear. She smashed the butt into the tray.

"You know..." She grabbed a cigarette pack from the side table and began slapping it against her palm. "I've known all along." As she unwrapped the cellophane from the pack, crackling echoed through the room. Pam looked strait at me. One eyebrow shot up, "You thought the two of you were so smart--hiding the truck, meeting at bars, going to hotels--you must of thought I was stupid."

I waited to speak. A lump formed in my throat. I had to say something to sate her, to make things right, but what? She knows about Maura...

Maura is the bartender at my favorite hangout. She's smart, petite, with a nice rack, and a bubbly personality. The complete package. She never complains. She's always happy to see me. She makes me feel good. I love her.

Pam is my wife. Pam is the mother of my children. Pam is my anchor. My obligations lie with her. I cannot believe she knows...

Pam lit a cigarette. I cleared my throat, "Pam...I--I just don't know what to say." I moved toward her. She put up her hand. I switched on a light. She was huddled on the couch. Pictures of us lay smashed and torn on the floor before her. Blood pooled on the sofa beneath her feet. "Pam, you're hurt!"


I've added a little and cut and moved a bit of information. I tried to incorporate some of the suggestions from the comments. I also tried to work on the clarity by giving some information on Maura. I think I'm heading in the right direction.

I want to read up on using flashbacks. I think I could give the characters a little boost if I included some history. Perhaps that would round it out?
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  1. Muse:

    You're coming along nicely. I could follow the story, and I was able to separate the characters easily. I did pause when you said she slapped the pack against her palm. The only women I've known who did that with their cigarette packs were adults during the 1940's and early fifties. My dear old mom used to smack her cigarettes that way, but she spent her days at the local bars, and her nights at the honky-tonks. It sort of went with the territory. By the way, I used that exact same line in my autobiography.

    Happy writing.

  2. Hey Swu! That's funny! There's not as many smokers out there now, but most women smokers that I know do it. You know why? Some man taught them to.

    Now writing that out made me think of an old joke. But I'm not going to tell it (too crude).

    Slapped the pack against her palm is in your autobiography? Hey, great minds think alike. I think it's a pretty good line.

    You mom sounds like someone I would have gotten along with, back in the day. Before the kiddos, I did my fair share of clubbing.

    Have a good one!

  3. Swubird--you are hilarious, and you bring back much memories!

    Muse, good work. Intriguing. The characters come alive.

    My take on flashbacks? History? Well, current wisdom/fashion/style says NO on both. Flashbacks have been heavily overused and are considered a weak cliche and history counts as back story, another no-no. Of course this may change, like, tomorrow...

  4. Hi Conda! Okay, I'll avoid them like the plague!!!

    It probably would not work for how short the story might end up being anyway. I'm looking to be as concise as possible with it.

    Take care!


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