View Full Version : What Brings Us Together (Chapter 1)

January 6th, 2014, 07:12 PM
Hi guys. This is my first novel that I'm really trying to write for fun, but also seriousness. I'd love to finish it and maybe even publish it one day, so I want it to be as good as possible. Please be as thorough as you wish, bust please refrain from making statements that represent the universal opinion of the excerpt (I.e 'this part is absolutely horrible') I am fine with criticism, even harsh criticism, but bashing, I will not take into account. Thank you!

It was Sunday, 7:45 in the morning. Young Derek Moore slapped his alarm clock's 'Off' button and, because it was quite early, forced himself out of bed. He slowly stumbled down the hallway to head for the shower, when he overheard his father, Curtis, using the kitchen phone to make a conference call. With a depressed tone, he said into the speaker: “Remember to be at the cemetery by 9:30, sharp. and remember: no in-laws, please.”

Derek knew his father was talking to his brother, Benjamin, and sister, Amy, about his deceased mother, Tara. Tara was a very kind woman and a loving mother. However, she was not without oddities. Even though she was one of the kindest women you could ever meet, she was not a stranger to a lie, especially when her children were much younger. Derek can easily recall times, late at night, where she would march quickly to the front door and show a sense of dread when he caught her and asked: "Mom, where are you going?" She would say "To the grocery store, honey," or "Out to buy some new clothes, Derek." But, she'd come home an hour or two later with no groceries and no new clothes.

To this day, Derek still doesn't know why she'd lie about where she was going. All he knows is one day, she left the house by herself and didn't come back for many hours. This was not any normal secret trip for Tara; this was much more serious. It became clear how serious it was when she came back, with the most blank, scared expression he had ever seen in his life. That evening, the entire family sat down in the living room to hear the news that left her so blank.

After letting out a trembling sigh, as if she were about to burst into tears, she said: "I went to a special doctor today." Knowing her kids were young and with little understanding, she explained: "the special doctor i went to is called an oncologist. What they do is check people for very bad problems in peoples' bodies, called cancers. After a long test, he told me with certainty, that I have inoperable, or unfixable lung cancer."
"But, mom, I thought you said cancer was a bad problem," said Amy.
"It is. But, unfortunately, I caught it and can not do anything to get rid of it," replied Tara, with sadness in her tone.
"Will you be all right, mom," asked Benjamin.
Tara knew the kids did not understand the severity of the situation, and did not want to bring a huge weight onto their shoulders. She knew she was going to be what the children would consider, 'not fine.' Her oncologist had only given her 3 months to live, with its seriousness. She looked at all of her innocent children and told them, "I will be fine, for now. But, kids... there may come a time where you may not see me anymore. I just want you to know this, so when that time comes, you know why."

About 2 and a half months later, Tara did pass away from her cancer. The loss hit Derek, Benjamin and Amy hard, but it hit Curtis the most. Realizing the toll this tragedy would take on him and his family, it hit him far too hard. He had turned into a shell of who he once was. Once kind, outgoing and happy, Curtis became strict, reticent and depressed.
This Sunday marked four years after Tara's death and Curtis' tradition to go to Tara's grave and pay respects. Curtis and Derek had showered, dressed quite formally and drove to the cemetery Tara was buried at. They got there 15 minutes early. After a few minutes, a red car showed up and out came a young man with dark brown hair, gelled up in the front and a beard slightly past its stubble point - Benjamin had arrived. A few more minutes later and a black-haired, doe eyed woman showed up in a white car, with flowers in hand. Amy had come, too.

Everyone gathered around Tara's tombstone, Amy placed her flowers in front of it, and Curtis said to everyone: "Let's have a moment of silence for your mother."
It was going according to how Curtis wanted. But, suddenly, Amy's car door had slammed shut and a voice echoed out: "Amy, you about done? This diner's about to start serving its Sunday specials and I know you don't want to be late for them!" It was Amy's husband, Isaac.

Everyone looked at Isaac, then looked at Amy in shock. That is, everyone except for Curtis - Curtis was furious. With his head aimed downward, he squinted and gripped the back of his combed hair tight between his fingers. He growled: "Why did you bring him here, Amy?"
Amy stood still, stammering; she knew no answer would be good enough.
"I thought I made myself clear on the phone. No in-laws!" Curtis continued to say.
"Dad, he just insisted he come for breakfast. He's not imposing!" replied Amy, after catching her wits.
"He's not imposing," Curtis mocked, "he called for you while we were paying respects! How is that not imposing?"
From the car, Isaac interjected, "Hey, man! I can hear you! Curtis... You need to let this go! You treat this like its a special family gathering. I understand, you loved your wife and wish she hadn't died, but she's been gone four years now! This isn't some taintable memory you'll cherish years from now. Your wife died! At some point you need to just stop being unreasonable and pull yourself together!"

Curtis started to push toward Isaac when Amy walked in front of him, pushed him and yelled, "Stop!"
She continued, "You know he's right, dad. It's time to get over this. We get that you loved mom. We all did... but this does nothing, it changes nothing! Mom wouldn't get why you are doing this."

Curtis didn’t reply. He just stood there with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face, as if he hadn't heard a single word Amy just said. Amy just looked back at him, scoffed and returned to the car. She and Isaac left for the diner without another word. Curtis turned around and walked back to Derek and Benjamin. With a discontent sigh, he said: "Well, the morning's ruined. Who wants breakfast?"

January 7th, 2014, 08:06 AM
I like what you have so far. I think it gets better as it goes along. You should ask yourself if you really need to say "Young Derek Moore". Does it become clear shortly after that he's young? I think it does. A little later you say "with a depressed tone". While it's true, I think there are more descriptive ways to show it. When you said "With a discontent sigh, he said", that does a much better job of showing how he is feeling. I don't know where you're going with this, but I want to read more. I think as long as you work on letting the reader do some of the work you'll have a good book on your hands!

January 10th, 2014, 05:29 AM
Dear BeastlyBeast,

At this point in the story, I'm a little too apathetic towards your characters. How am I supposed to feel? Who am I supposed to side with here? You want to try and lead the reader into the mindset they need to continue in the book. If you want them to feel indifferent about the mother, that maybe play up the internal struggle that Derek goes through. If we're supposed to feel sympathetic for Curtis, focus more on his feelings. Overall, there is too much information here and not enough emotion. I'm reading the spark notes of his relationship with his mother. Dig deep! Put the knife in, twist it a little. Don't be afraid to really give us a gut-check with the cancer thing. Also, don't be afraid to start it off in that very first paragraph. Drop a line like, "Who's he talking to? Amy?" He pauses. "No. Has it been four years? Has she been gone that long?" How could he forget? She was his mother.... Something like that shows a couple of quick things: Tara's dead, it's been awhile since she past, and slowly, the children are passed it, which suggests that they weren't that close with her. Inject a little mystery by hinting at things rather than spelling them out.

In all, I think the more you pour their emotion into the story, the more it will come together, the more it will accentuate whatever theme your trying to demonstrate. With some character depth, I think you've got an interesting story on your hands.

The pancreas

January 13th, 2014, 10:20 AM
I have enjoyed reading your story. I think you take it seriously it's nice story.