View Full Version : Out of my comfort zone.

August 2nd, 2014, 08:56 PM
I was challenged, on Facebook, to write a short romance story.......... I decided to write it here and have my tin hat on for your criticism! I am a 42 year old bloke with kids, I don't "do" romance but love a challenge!

The ray of sunlight seemed to dance over Sandy's face, Donny couldn't take his eyes from her. Just a gap in the curtains allowed him to see her in a different light. Tentatively, he squeezed her hand but his ice maiden did not respond. No matter what he did she just would not respond to him. Her eyes no longer had that 'come get me look.' Donny would do anything to get that look back, he knew it was his fault, couldn't they find a way to start over, he would never have taken her to that party if he had known that he would go home without the love of his life. Words just would not come, if he could find words, would she stay? Could Donny make those cold grey eyes sparkle again? He was prepared to try. Perhaps if he said it out loud?

"Lass, I 'appen I recall when we met. You were with your pals and I was on my own, we danced, your pals seemed to know summat I didn't. They faded into the background, for me, lass, there were only you. I can't 'appen on the music, some big sound that were all the rage. You seemed to be made to fit my arms, how can you just turn your back on this Sandy? You were the lass for me." Sandy did not react, it was as though Donny had not spoken, he took a deep breath and continued. "What did I do wrong lass? 'appen I was caught up in me work, I did it all for you though, can't tha see?" A single tear trickled down Donny's cheek, he sat there; his pride no longer important; the angst plain as the sunlight on her face. "I wanted to have children with you, raise a family but it weren't t be lass, we never spoke about it 'til now." Leaning earnestly forward Donny continued, "'Mayap we could have done it differently, we could 'ave asked them Doctors why the seed didn't plant, perhaps we could have done them tests, that introveneyfibrillation thing where babies are made in testing tubes?" Seizing on this glimmer of hope, Donny squeezed Sandy's hand tighter. "Silly, silly me, we could have adopted a lil un, filled our home with laughter. We didn't do bad lass, we had our share of thrills and giggles, don't leave me over this, it may not be too late, we could ask them doctors, if they can't fix what stopped us making a baby they will know where we could adopt one, what ya say old girl, are you willing to give Old Donny a chance? I could build Lego with a little lad, let a little girl brush my hair and make pretend cups of tea. What ya say? Could we give it a try?" Sandy did not reply. She just allowed Donny to caress her hand, at least she had not snatched it away.

The sunlight had stopped its dance on Sandy's face, a face that Donny knew so well. If he closed his eyes he could picture every line on her face, he remembered every smile she had ever blessed him with, he recalled how her now cold and unfeeling eyes had lit up when he entered the room, had she stopped loving him now?

"Was it me job pet? I know I worked long hours and the money weren't great but it was all I knew, I never got on with schooling and could do no more, why are you leaving me, Sandy, why?" Without emotion, Sandy refused to look at him.

Sandy did not even look at him, her hand warm in his, she did not return his grasp. Grasping he was, clutching at straws, without a word from his beloved Sandy, Donny knew that another man would come soon to take her, take her from him. He was powerless to stop it happening. Never did he think another man would steal the light from his Sandy's eyes. How could things have come to this? That bloody party. He had never wanted to go. They left the party together but Sandy had never returned to their home. The drunk driver that plowed into their car had seen to that. Sixty three years of marriage would not end like this, the Doctor may come and turn off the machine breathing for Sandy, the transplant team may come and harvest her organs, the Priest may come and put her in the ground but no one would ever take his Sandy, the sunlight would always dance on her face.

August 3rd, 2014, 07:17 PM
Nice. I felt it. It was, to use technical terms, a really good "show". Maybe I'm reading the wrong books, but I don't see that much. You understand love and can describe it. Thanks, I enjoyed reading.

The dialect worked for me, and you portrayed the man as less educated than the narrator, that worked well.

Did you really want criticism? It seems so shallow. "why are you leaving me, Sandy, why?" makes perfect sense if they are getting divorced, but not so good for her dying. You would in general want to write in a way that worked from both perspectives. But I think you know that, and I don't know if it's possible, maybe you did the best possible.

And a really tiny thing, but I would have preferred "He felt a tear trickle down his cheek." You are (mostly) writing from his perspective.

August 3rd, 2014, 07:31 PM
Thank you so much, Emma. I used the rhetorical question to show Donny's feeling of abandonment. One of the stages of grief is said to be anger at the person who died, in my clumsy manner (If I ever become a "good" writer, I shall never become a "good" romance writer!) I tried to show Donny feeling alone with the knowledge of what was to come.

I actually wrote the story directly on here, thank you so much for giving me your views on it, I really appreciate it. I was challenged to write something with love as its theme rather then my usual gore and nastiness. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and critique.

August 4th, 2014, 02:48 AM
Holy hell, don't make me cry, Reject. I will if I have to. Old people love really just waters me old blues up to the point I can't see straight. Don't know why that kind of loyalty really hits me, but boy does it ever.

Can we just spend a hot minute on the fact that you put yourself out of your comfort zone? If we could all do that as writers or potential writers, a lot more of us would understanding, cleaner writers, and likely published. I can't stress enough how important going past your limits is. How can you know what's beyond you if you don't keep trying to find it? How can you know where you fit best, if you don't explore every area? More importantly, if you can't write some kind of story, you limit yourself. Who's to say you can't throw a little romance into science fiction or fantasy? Give this forumer a cookie.

That being said, you definitely looked a little stretched at times. The names, Donny and Sandy kind of up the cheese factor going on at the beginning. I'm either watching the final chapter in the Grease saga or another episode of General Hospital. I don't know why those names really sparks a dislike in my mouth, but something just didn't click. I think you should really watch the cliches at the beginning to make sure that the story carries that poignancy throughout, not just at the end. If you could just start with something that sounds awful, maybe the idea that he, Donny, should never have gone to that party, should never have exposed himself to the dangers, I think you'll be just fine winding up the audience and then smacking them out of the park with that incredible ending of yours.

To that end, I would carefully extract some of the repeated words and phrases, things like, "She wouldn't look at him. She wouldn't say anything." We get it the first time. If she's not answering, repeating her reaction only makes it that much more suspicious that something's up. Don't sell such a beautiful story short.

August 4th, 2014, 07:01 AM
Brilliant, thank you. You summed up the reasons I accepted the challenge absolutely "Bob on!" (As we say in these parts!) Reading your review I found myself nodding and mumbling "yep, that's right, oh I can see that now....etc..."

I am pleased that you picked up on the names, I couldn't agree more. I hope I don't sound all defensive here, that is not my aim, I just feel I ought let you know they weren't chosen by me, I let Facebook friends have that pleasure. Some of the ones that didn't make the cut were "Donny and Marie, Donny and Debbie, Reginald and Marge, Albert and Victoria......." See what I was up against?

I am taking away the advice about repeating words and phrases, never thought of that before but acknowledge it is something that I do an awful lot. Will have to keep a beady one on it. I will repeat myself here, though, with justification, as I perceive it. The story was written directly on here, not a great deal of time went into writing it. (My Shepherd Neame Spitfire was getting warm!) It was written simply because someone said I couldn't write about "love" (Whatever the hell that is.)

Thank you for giving me your well reasoned views, contained within is some advice that can only make me a better writer and I am taking it!

August 4th, 2014, 12:53 PM
"was it my job pet"......pet!!!....long time since i heard that in Newcastle...enjoyed the piece but that one line brought back so many memories.

August 4th, 2014, 12:56 PM
I live near York, so not too far from Newcastle.