Today I thought I’d share with you guys a page from a book I wrote lo, these many years ago – sadly, only five, but be kind to me – after which you will see why the alternative title to this post was The Book That Thank Heavens Never Was.
What I’ll do is paste in the page, and then in bold insert my comments about what works and what doesn’t, and how I might change something given what I know now about writing. Promise you’ll still be my friend after you read this?
Ross found him at 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning as the sun shot it’s first brilliant rays through the floor to ceiling windows at the front of the chapel. The sight was such that ross, who was not the least bit Catholic, crossed himself in horror. The young man’s body hung suspended on the cross (Cross and Ross? Really, past self?) dead center of the platform, his eyes staring sightlessly across the empty rows of chairs. Ross just stared (we are all staring at everything, apparently) for a long moment, not noticing as the mop fell from his hand, knocking the bucket of soapy water and sending a small wave of it onto the stone floor He didn’t notice the mop falling so hard it somehow knocked over an entire bucket of water? okay.). Then, shaking, Ross grabbed the walkie-talkie hooked onto his belt and clicked the send button.
“Tony? You there?”
The young man’s voice responded, heavy with sleep, “Yeah Ross, whatcha got?”
“There’s something here you’re going to need to see. And you better get Michael in here too. Hurry.”
(grammar! Characters! Prologue! Sure, why not!)
Two weeks before his body was found hung on a cross in the camp chapel, the young man, whose name was Glenn, was very much alive. He sat in the camp kitchen, the campers (campy camp camp camp do you think we might be at camp?) he was in charge of for the week occupied by their afternoon rest time, watching movies in the large empty room just off the dining hall. His fiancé Rebecca, who was also a counselor at the camp, sat across from him playing cards and drinking lemonade, fighting the heat of midafternoon.
“Gin.” GRAMMAR Rebecca said, smiling. Her blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail, but a few corkscrew curls still sprung out and framed her pink face.
“What, again? That’s like seven for her and hmmm, what, like…zero for you Glenn?” Kristin teased him. She continued chopping the lettuce for the night’s burgers. Next to her Lauren, another assistant cook, was slicing tomatoes and onions.
“Hey, what can I say? I guess I just can’t play cards when I’m distracted by a beautiful girl.” NAUSEATING Kristin and Lauren wrinkled their noses, Lauren holding up four fingers and Kristin three.(Nopitty nope nope) They liked to grade his romantic comments on a scale of one to ten.( gee thanks I wasn’t quite sure) Rebecca liked it though, she smiled and turned just a shade pinker. (only one? what a relief. Two is just over. the. top.) She looked up at the clock over his head.(don’t you have clocks hovering over your characters heads?)
“Well, only ten minutes left before our little darlings are done with naptime. I’m going to use the bathroom, then we can walk over to get them.” (WHY exactly did we need to know this??) Rebecca shoved her chair back and stood, wincing as the back of her legs stuck to the vinyl chair. Glenn watched her walk out of the kitchen, then stood himself and tossed the cards into the drawer.(one action at a time. Let’s not get crazy here.)
“So I heard you guys are getting married here, but that you’re not inviting any of the staff.” GRAMMAR GOOD HEAVENS Lauren said, eyeballing him as her knife sliced through yet another tomato. Glenn cleared his throat and attempted to phrase his answer delicately.
“Rebecca’s family doesn’t have a lot of money, and neither does mine. We have to keep the wedding very small, almost exclusively family.”
So. That was super fun, right? Hey, at least this is buried deep in my laptop only to be brought out for mockery and shame and possibly target practice.
How far has your writing come in five years?