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Platoon
November 26th, 2016, 06:48 PM
This is a character exploration idea. Nothing too defined yet but this is what I got so far. Any feedback is welcomed, thank you.

***

Dean came home to an empty house. His wife, Trish, was absent and he had no idea where she could be at this time. It was almost one in the morning. He called her on her cell but he heard it ringing in the bedroom; she had left it home. After pacing about for a few moments he finally decided to call her father. Maybe he would know where she was?

- Yeah?

- Frank, sorry to bother you this late… Do you have any idea where Trish could be? I just got home and she isn’t here… She’s even left her cell here. I’m worried sick.

- What are you talking about?

Mr. Stevenson, Trish’s dad, answered calmly but his voice sent an immediate chill down Dean’s spine. There is simply no way she wasn’t at her parents. He couldn’t accept that for that left no other options on the table. Where else could she be?

- I’m sorry Frank, he blabbered back. I thought maybe… Maybe she was there.

After a moment of silence, the old man replied.

- Dean, what’s going on?


***


That night that Trish disappeared, back in 96, Dean’s life changed and would never again be the same. He simply lost her that day.

Fast forward a few years after that and you have Dean right here, in my apartment, asking me for some coke. He’s just had a wild night but he says he isn’t finished. I pause. I take a moment to look at him, I mean to really look at him – I am just trying to understand this man - and then I lower my gaze onto my coffee table, near the ashtray and the empty bottles, where I’ve left my wrist watch ; it’s a quarter to six in the morning.

I ask him if he wants a cigarette.

He stared at me without flinching a muscle for a few moments and then his eyes suddenly softened and he smiled. He walked to the couch and sat down. I gave him the cigarette but he declined it with a soft movement from his hand.

And that’s when he just started talking about it, about everything like he never had until that day.

He told me everything.


***

Sometimes you remind me of Him

''I don’t know what to tell you man. But when a friend asks you for some coke, you should give it to him. You shouldn’t think, you shouldn’t look, you shouldn’t analyze so much. You should simply hand it over you know? After all what’s this place we call Home without a lil cooperation between us, brothers and fateful servants of life – us the characters of our own private destinies, yet interwined wich each other? Us brothers in arms in this thing called existence?’’

He had an ironic stare about him as he spoke those words in that all too personal of a flow he was the master of. He slightly tilted his head to one side as if to say - well ? – his face harbored an eerie yet dreamy smile, all the while his eyes maintaining that hint of irony.

''You know man, sometimes you remind me of my father? He had the same way of looking at me at times. I can still see his eyes perfectly even now, after all these years. Man I just can’t forget that fucking stare he had. It would pierce right through me and disarm my conscience of any thoughts I could call my own. When he looked at me like that I was his - actually, when he looked at me like that I was him.’’

Well if he wouldn’t have one I would. I reached for my pack, took out a cigarette and lit it. I looked back at Dean and he was still looking towards me but his stare had changed; his gaze had taken a distant aspect and he was now in fact looking further out, through me. He still had the same smile.

''I think it’s probably when we moved down to Carolina that things started to go wrong. Come to think of it, they were always wrong but I didn’t know it. But when we moved that third time, I started to know a little more every day. Until I knew so much of it that I thought I would explode into an abyss of darkness – into death itself. But back when we had just arrived in Carolina, and my parents sent me to that school – I guess I was still all right.

I've told you about Jenny before right? The girl I was so desperately in love with in the third grade?’’

- Yeah sure. That girl you’ve actually confessed your love to no? The very first one.

Solokeh Krontos
November 27th, 2016, 01:24 AM
The formatting is rather odd. I had a hard time determining who was speaking at times. The narrator switch is also disorienting, one moment a detached, nearly omniscient voice, the next a personal and characterized individual. The concept is rather overused, though interesting. I mean, unexpected devastating event in flashback form, then cut to present. He's even in the "not a care in the world" stage, classic. In other words, it's not blowing my mind, but I'm ready for more.

Pluralized
November 27th, 2016, 02:18 AM
In terms of developing Dean as a character, it worked for me. I thought this was enjoyable and I'd certainly want to read on. Stuff better start happening soon though - guys who do coke can't also do casual romanticism, so I'd expect bullets, blades, boobs, or some kind of ill shit to break out with the quickness. :)

He stared at me - the tense slipped and we went from present to simple past which didn't seem fitting. Maybe look again and make consistent.

interwined wich each other - with

Good stuff, well written. Let's have some more please.

Bard_Daniel
November 27th, 2016, 03:30 AM
I felt the first two sections worked but that the third seemed a bit amiss for the first little bit. The ending, however, brought it back.

Just my two cents! Write on!

Platoon
November 30th, 2016, 01:39 PM
The formatting is rather odd. I had a hard time determining who was speaking at times. The narrator switch is also disorienting, one moment a detached, nearly omniscient voice, the next a personal and characterized individual. The concept is rather overused, though interesting. I mean, unexpected devastating event in flashback form, then cut to present. He's even in the "not a care in the world" stage, classic. In other words, it's not blowing my mind, but I'm ready for more.

Thank you Solokeh. I have to agree that there are some clichés in here. Hopefully if I would make this longer they would start ''diluting'' in more realism (if done right lol).


In terms of developing Dean as a character, it worked for me. I thought this was enjoyable and I'd certainly want to read on. Stuff better start happening soon though - guys who do coke can't also do casual romanticism, so I'd expect bullets, blades, boobs, or some kind of ill shit to break out with the quickness. :)

He stared at me - the tense slipped and we went from present to simple past which didn't seem fitting. Maybe look again and make consistent.

interwined wich each other - with

Good stuff, well written. Let's have some more please.

Greatly appreciated ! This is encouraging. I'll have to see how I can incorporate some hmmm shotguns and strippers (why not...) in this. It was not in the original idea ;) lol

I really like your avatar btw !


I felt the first two sections worked but that the third seemed a bit amiss for the first little bit. The ending, however, brought it back.

Just my two cents! Write on!

Thanks for the feedback danielstj. Yeah the begining of the third part where Dean first starts talking to the narrator probably needs to be reworked.

I will try to write on when I get some free time.

thank you all !

Jay Greenstein
December 5th, 2016, 04:59 AM
Dean came home to an empty house. His wife, Trish, was absent and he had no idea where she could be at this time.This is an overview, the storyteller setting the scene in general terms. But it's data, not story. So it's every bit as interesting as the opening to a history book. It works for you, because you begin writing knowing who he is, where he's coming from, and everything else needed to visualize the action. But look at it from a reader's viewpoint.

• Dean came home to an empty house.
This could be a mansion or a shack. It could be morning or night. Dean could be twenty or ninety. We can't tell, so the words are meaningful only to you. And while you will clarify, you can't retroactively remove confusion.

My point is that you, the narrator, are talking to the reader in a voice the reader can't hear. The image you hold generates the words, yes, but the words, alone, can't generate that picture for the reader. So instead of you talking about him, why not let him live the story as we watch? Fair is fair. It is his story. And you're going to do bad things to him and make his life go to hell, so why not let the poor bastard live the story and learn all the crap you talk about, himself? Why not hide in the prompter's booth and taunt him, while we watch him?

Look at an alternative approach:

Dean came through the front door yawning. The lights were on in the living room, but Trish wasn't there. But it was after one, so she was probably asleep—a sound idea, given that tomorrow was a work day.

"Trish," he called, loud enough to be heard upstairs, but not loud enough to wake her. "I'm home?" No answer came, which wasn't too much of a surprise. He killed the living room lights, took off his shoes, and and tiptoed upstairs.

But the bedroom lights were on, and the bed was still made.

"That's odd, he muttered as he dug for his phone. "Call Trish," he said to the phone. Where would she be this time of the night?

Behind him, on the bureau her phone began playing the tune that said he was calling her. He slipped his own phone back in his pocket as he turned, a spoor of gooseflesh tickling his spine.

What in the hell is going on? For a long moment his eyes roamed the bedroom, looking for the unexpected while he thought over the possibilities. Then...

Not your story, just a quick parallel to show another, character-centric and emotion-based approach. Note that I, the narrator, never appear on stage. But that makes sense. He's the actor. I tell the reader nothing as myself. Instead, he lives, moment by moment, each of his actions and observations ticking time forward in the moment he calls "now."

Notice, too, that the only things I mention are what he notices and reacts to.

He enters the house. His yawning tells us his situation. It's not only late, he's sleepy. He notes the lights and reacts to them, so we learn he expected his wife to be asleep. We also learn what time it is and that he needs to sleep: scene and mood setting to orient the reader: Where am I? Who am I? What's going on?

He calls his wife, but is careful not to wake her, a reasonable action that shows us a little of his character and their relationship. This gives us a feel for the household and for him as a person. Making the reader know his expectations says that when he finds she's not there the reader will be as surprised as he is, and wonder why she's not. That's a hook.

He takes off his shoes and tiptoes, showing that he cares for his lady. His turning off the lights is a bit of scene setting to ready the reader for bed and increase their reaction when the lights are still on in the bedroom.

He he notes that the lights are on and his lady is missing. The still-made bed is a surprise, and tells him she probably left much earlier. But the lights being on imply that it came after dark. More scene setting. And knowing what he knows, the reader may wonder if it's significant that the lights weren't turned off: perhaps a bit of foreshadowing. In any case, he notices and reacts to it, which tells us he thinks it matters. And that calibrates our reaction. Notice that as readers, we not just being told things, we're experiencing them.

So he calls her phone, as we would, and we share his reaction to her phone not being with her. Just learning the phone isn't with her means little. She might forget it all the time. But his little shiver tells us it matters, and perhaps how much. More foreshadowing

And that—our reader being made to react emotionally—is the difference between reading a report and reading a story. Story happens. Story has an uncertain future that hooks the reader. And that entertains. A report just informs.

Keep in mind that nothing I did or said above has anything to do with talent, potential, or even good/bad writing. It's that writing fiction, like any other field, has tricks of the trade that must be learned. There are things that are obvious once pointed out. And none of that was mentioned in our school days. Nor is it something we'd pick up by reading.

“There’s no such thing as a born writer. It’s a skill you’ve got to learn, just like learning how to be a bricklayer or a carpenter.”
~ Larry Brown

And that's my point. Every one of us come to writing from the same place. We've been taught to write reports and essays in school, to ready us for employment. And since they don't mention that we're being trained in nonfiction writing skills (who's to tell us? Our teachers learned their skills in the same classrooms) we believe we have the writing part the profession taken care of and need only a knack for words, a good story idea, practice, and a bit of luck.

If only.

So there you are. The solution is simple, though not easy. It's simple in that if you were capable of learning the nonfiction skills you're capable of learning fiction, too. The bad news? It took us twelve years to learn the nonfiction skills. :concern:

But there is a lot of crossover. You can already spell, and punctuate, and all the other mechanical issues. What you need is an understanding of things like what a scene is on the page, and how to manage the elements. You need the tricks of viewpoint I used in my example. It's not going to be either quick or easy. I won't lie to you there. But...if you are meant to be a writer the learning is fascinating. And the tricks make the writing a lot more fun.

The Internet is a good resource, though there is also a lot of misinformation out there, too. Your local library's fiction writing section can be a huge help, with advice from successful pros: writers, publishers, teachers, and agents. My personal suggestion is to look for the names Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, or Debra Dixon on the cover.

Hang in there, and keep on writing. It keeps us off the streets at night.