Saturday, July 24, 2010

No Means No

Finally. It's ready. My entry for the red dress club's Friday "pick a number" meme. My numbers were 8, 1, 7 and 4.* If you're interested, I'll explain what that means at the end of the story. Or, just click on over to the red dress club and read the full details. While you're there, follow the links and read the other entries.

This scene is a little different than I had intended. It may or may not be used in my manuscript. Please tell me if you think I am telling more than showing and, if so, does the story suffer because of that. Warning, as the title applies, a sensitive issue is presented below so please be forewarned.

Janice stumbled to the creek, desperate to get away. She could hear the party in the house and wished she had stayed. She would be shy and uncomfortable. Still feel like she didn’t belong. But that was better than this.

Why oh why had she let Brian bring her out here? She hid behind a tree and peered around it toward the house. No one was coming. Brian had gone back to the party.

She leaned against the trunk and slid down it to sit Indian-style, just outside the circle of light. Fairy lanterns twinkled in the back yard, the romantic glow out of sync with what had happened. She held her breath to listen, to reach out with her senses. She was alone.

Her new blouse was torn and clung to the slight rise of her breasts. So did the smell of his aftershave, its headiness now mingled with her fear and revulsion. Beads of perspiration gathered around her lips and under her arms, it dripped down her chest. Strands of hair clung to her face and neck.

She wanted to go back to the party but her pants were wet and sticky, and the smell of his semen made her gag. If she went in there, everyone would look at her. And they would know. They would think she was bad.

Maybe she was.

A whippoorwill called in the distance. Another one answered. Someone opened the back door and Pink sang of heartache and despair. A tear trickled down Janice's cheek, followed by another one.

She held her blouse together, wondering where she could find a safety pin. She’d spent three weeks searching for just the right top, going from shop to shop to find this particular one, white with big splashes of orange flowers. She had thought it made her look older, had wanted it to. She wanted to look beautiful for Brian.

She was a fool. Brian had wanted only one thing.

It happened so fast. One minute everything was wonderful. They were laying side by side and he was kissing her. Next minute her pants were down and his knee was between her legs, shoving them open. She was strong and fought him. He was stronger.

He'd fought back with words. "You don't want to be a tease, do you?"

Then, "Let me just feel. I won't do anything, I promise." And, "You want me to, I know it."

Then the knee, and he was in there.

She had turned to stone. Unmoving. Unseeing. Unfeeling. Eternity collapsed and she'd ceased to exist.

But now, the only way out was through. So she walked back in there. She pretended. Everything was fine. Nothing had happened. She drank a beer. Then drank another. She fell out of a car full of girls, giggling. Drunk. Her friends, not a man named Brian, shoved her back in. They got her home. Life went on. They never knew.


*The writing prompt for my story: 8) a high school freshman, 1) in the woods, 7) in the summer and 4) a crime has occurred or is about to.

Could you help me with this? Should this scene be made stronger? It is a flashback to a critical turning point for the main character of my novel, sooo...What do you think?

Thanks for your help, Olivia

22 comments:

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Sadly, this isn't just reserved for fiction. You did a fantastic job of portraying the hurt, the loss, and sense of dirtiness and betrayal that comes from such a crime.

Sunday has such a scene for me in my blog mystery. Life is tragic because Man makes it so.

Have a great weekend, Roland

Jessica Anne said...

Great job! I really felt her revulsion, confusion, and pain. A tragic story. Really well told.

Elliot Grace said...

...the trick is to lift a reader from their sofa, and plop them into your story, painting them a picture with brush strokes from a hand talented enough to leave them begging for more.

I knew she was in despair without you spelling it out. That's what I mean by "painting the pic."

Nicely done:)

The Words Crafter said...

Ooooo, you stirred up some emotions inside of me!!! Excellent, very well done!

Renae said...

Well done, you pulled me right into your story. Good work!

Jemi Fraser said...

My heart aches for her - nicely done.

arlee bird said...

Pretty brutal stuff there, but a well written account of a bad, sad scene.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Elaine AM Smith said...

So sad.

The blouse was an excellent metaphor.

Olivia J. Herrell said...

Hi guys! After you were here today I added a request for help. Is the scene strong enough to be included as a flashback scene for the mc of my novel? Or could/should it be made stronger?

Meaning, should I rewrite it as if it were actually happening, rather than after the fact? Ugh. But I couldn't shake the feeling last night after I finished that it wasn't quite right.

Thank you for the feedback you did give me.

Roland, fantastic? Oh yay! Thank you.

Jessica Anne, you felt her feelings. That's good. Was the depth of the feeling appropriate or should it be deeper?

Elliot, your observation thrills me, thank you. Did you feel the despair?

WC, oooo, emotions. Again, appropriate level? From your view was the intensity level strong enough?

~Olivia

Olivia J. Herrell said...

Renae and Jemi, was it real enough?

Lee, a well-written account. See, that's my dilemma. Does this particular scene need to be written as the act occurs for the maximum punch of the flashback? It's bugging me, can you tell?

Elaine, omg! I metaphored and didn't even realize it. :) I do know that that blouse was significant last night as I wrote. Now I know why. THANK YOU!

~Olivia

Corinne said...

I think you did a really wonderful job with a truly painful scene!

Donna Hole said...

Vivid, emotive, realistic. A very feeling piece. You did well to "show" her plight; the feelings of complicity because of her search for just the right shirt, enjoying the kissing, and the sense of shame and violation. Very well written.

A couple of inconsistencies though:

At the beginning she says she would have been "shy and uncomfortable" if she'd stayed in the house at the party; yet she willingly left with a boy she liked - no coercion or trickery seemed to have brought her out with him. And she had dressed to impress Brian, to catch his interest. Those are not actions of a "shy" girl.

The "shy and uncomfortable" line also makes her seem friendless - out of her normal social circle. Yet at the end, she is among a giggley group of girls - her friends - who see her safely home.

Being a "nice girl" or showing up at a teen party where you are popular - doesn't mean you are willing to go further than the feeling up/petting phase. You wrote this scene very realisticly; it is a common enough scenario among teens. The one little conflict stayed with me though.

The other thing that strikes me as off is the "By now" beginning of the last paragraph. You said this was a flash back, but it doesn't read like one; it reads in the present. And that "by now" wording confirms it. You would need to set this scene up as a memory just before, and transition out in that paragraph into the present. "By now" still leaves the reader firmly in the scene with the narrative that follows.

You need some phrases like "looking back" or "she felt" or some such past tense emotion to draw the reader back to the main story.

But yes; it was the right amount of "showing" in this scene, until the very end. Well written and realistic.

........dhole

arlee bird said...

In response to Donna's observations I would like to defend Olivia's depiction. I can very easily see a consistency with a girl feeling "shy and uncomfortable" in the highly social situation of the party full of people. She could still feel shy and uncomfortable leaving with Brian, but she also has this naive fantasy about their relationship. She likes him and buying the blouse was part of her fantasy-- she could easily be shy and buy a blouse in hopes of being notice by this guy she has a crush on.

One can by shy and uncomfortable in social settings, but still have friends--she must have come to the party with these same friends. In deciding to go back into the party under the circumstances, drinking beers to fit in makes sense and becoming "giggly" and falling out of the car fits into the insecurity of being shy, uncomfortable, and drunk.

For me, the technique of using the sense of the present in a flashback illustrates the devastating impact of the incident as she relives it and has probably relived it several times by that time.

Out of personal experience, I can recall times in younger days when I had many friends and people I socialized with and still felt shy and uncomfortable in social settings. I see nothing at all incongruous with this concept.

The piece works very well for me.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Ratz said...

Oh this is so sad! so painful

Cheryl said...

I think you did a nice job with this overall. I liked the graph w/ the birds and music.

The first graph is awkward, though. There is an issue with tense in fragment "Still feel like she didn't belong."
It should either be "She would be shy and uncomfortable, still feeling like she didn't belong" or She would be she and uncomfortable. Still feeling like she didn't belong." The "would" doesn't carry into the fragment and I think that's what stopped me.

It's also not written like a flashback. It just happened.

Just my thoughts!!!

Olivia J. Herrell said...

Corinne, thank you for stopping by and for your encouragement.

Donna, I was hoping you would come by, thank you so much for your critique. LEE perfectly explained what was going on in the background of this scene, I couldn't say it better so I won't try. Thank you, Lee!

I wrote this scene from a Red Writing Hood meme, not actually in the flow of my wip so it is definitely out of context, and in a vacuum. It needs to be integrated in to the story, as you said.

Thank you both for answering the question of whether it is strong enough. I'll be able to tell better once I write the chapter around it. Maybe I could share that later to see if it works for you, too?

You guys rock!!! Olivia

Olivia J. Herrell said...

Corinne, thank you for stopping by and for your encouragement.

Donna, I was hoping you would come by, thank you so much for your critique. LEE perfectly explained what was going on in the background of this scene, I couldn't say it better so I won't try. Thank you, Lee!

I wrote this scene from a Red Writing Hood meme, not actually in the flow of my wip so it is definitely out of context, and in a vacuum. It needs to be integrated in to the story, as you said.

Thank you both for answering the question of whether it is strong enough. I'll be able to tell better once I write the chapter around it. Maybe I could share that later to see if it works for you, too?

You guys rock!!! Olivia

Olivia J. Herrell said...

Ratz, you felt it, I'm so glad.

Cheryl, you're right about the languaging. When I work it in to my wip I'll go back and revisit those sentences. I will also work it in as a flashback vs present action. Thank you!

~Olivia

arlee bird said...

In response to Cheryl, I see nothing awkward about the paragraph that you have questioned. What I get from it is breathless confusion, just distanced from panic. It is stream of conciousness. The fragments put me closer inside the girl's head and it is closer to real thought process. To actually stretch in into correct sentence form would somewhat distance me from what the character is feeling. Real thought doesn't always come in precise sentence form.

This is what I get from this here and the style of writing in general.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Olivia J. Herrell said...

Lee, I just reread the piece and you're right. It works for me, too. I can see Cheryl's point. But we're in the mc's head. And this is what I hear.

The more characters that live in my head, the more internal dialogues I hear. Like my own head isn't noisy enough. But when those dudes are talking, I'm just a secretary. Like Roland's neighbor. Thank you for getting my writing. And for showing me myself.

~Olivia

Postman said...

Brilliant writing - visceral. Puts the reader there in the character's mind, including all the dirty details. Vivid descriptions of setting and sequence.

The only thing that jumps out at me is that it seems the heroine came to her decision (to go back to the party) rather quickly, and that the reaction when she did was rather abrupt. She decided to go back in and no one noticed. That was it. This is fine, but it could stand a little embellishment, I think. I'm kind of left hanging. I'd like to know: how much more agonizing did she go through before she mustered up the courage to go in? What were the exact reactions of people when she did go back in? What did they say to her, what did they do (how, in other words, did they act when they didn't notice)?

Olivia J. Herrell said...

Postman, thank you! I can add that bit. I'll share after I do, k?

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