I know, I know: I had reserved Saturdays for original fiction posts. Shame on me for breaking my own rule.
I hadn’t planned on doing any of the writing prompts this week, because none of them immediately grabbed me. But, while I was writing a “real” chapter, the scene below came to me. It’s back story, I suppose, of an alternate-universe sort. Or, maybe it really did happen; I can’t decide. At any rate, both Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday word bank and Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction prompt (DESOLATE) conspired with my evil little brain to create this. I didn’t keep things to five sentences, so I can’t submit to Lillie’s link list, but I wanted to give her some credit for getting the juices flowing.
Warning: Sensitive situations included below. Nothing graphic, but I’d suggest not clicking if you’re uncomfortable with descriptions of sexuality.
I’m slowly returning to normal with this blog. Hopefully, you haven’t already left me behind! Though, I guess if you have done, you won’t be reading this, anyway, so the hopes are moot. I’ve got a conference and an awards thing to do over the next two weeks, but, after that, I’m looking to get back in the thick of things.
Did you write from any prompts, this week? Which ones? Feel free to link to them in the comments, because I’d love to check them out!
Though currently embroiled in my NaNoWriMo tale of soldiers and stowaways, I was abruptly struck by Julia’s prompt for this week’s 100-Word Challenge for Grown-Ups:
…the silence was deafening…
WordPress and Twitter friends itsjennythewren and sjbwriting said I should feel free to indulge my pestering inner muse on this one, though, so I’ve done. (Make sure to check out their blogs, too!)
If you don’t like my story, that’s fine. Sometimes, we just have to write for ourselves.
“It should have stayed that way”
The blaring horns, the cawing gulls, even the roar of rolling waves…none of them matched the sounds of Ross’s heartbreak: hitching breaths exploding like dynamite, staccato bursts of emotion spit wet and raw between his teeth.
Yet, still, he was beautiful.
And that beauty pulled, like an undertow, until his sobs became a muffled gasp of surprise from around the briny clasp of his lips.
A heartbeat later, he pulled away, his eyes clear and full. Not of love, though. And even the practised platitudes couldn’t make vanish that look of betrayal.
Wordlessly, he rose, and left. And for Neville, the silence was deafening.
I feel a bit bad that my WordPress readers only get to see this tortured side of poor Neville, when he’s really one of my more well-balanced characters. Love grows in different ways for each of us, though, and this love between him and Ross is integral to the depth of their friendship.
“Good old Nev.”
Others might say I’m pandering with my portrayal of Neville, because his sexual orientation gives no conflict to the main plot. But I always felt that, even if there’s no sexual affair between them, his love for Ross made him more honest than virtually any other character in the story. The story (and Ross) needs that. I don’t think I could make Neville straight and have him be the same character or give his perspective equal weight than it has with him being gay…and still a little bit in love with Ross.
How did you answer this week’s prompt? And/Or: What are your feelings about a character’s identity affecting (or not affecting) the plot of a story?
The prompt for this week’s Five Sentence Fiction from Lillie McFerrin is MEMORIES.
Once again (and keeping with my posting schedule), I’m using it to tackle some backstory for Fearless. Part of this is an effort to get back on-track…and part of it is because I think the conflict is an interesting one to examine.
“What It’s Not”
At four, he simply hadn’t known; “love” was but the smell of Christmas roast filling the kitchen, or cold ice cream sliding down his throat, or the rush of seawater between his toes.
By the time he was twelve, he’d come to understand it a bit more, though still not very much: Mum’s warm embrace, and his sisters’ gentle teasing; the joy of rolling waves to ride, and the blow of ocean air against his face.
By sixteen, though, he knew, he understood, even if he wished he didn’t. Because love like in stories was glorious and loud, full of honesty and trust, not hushed and hidden and kept secret in his breast, whispered only to the wind and the soft goose feathers stuffed in his pillow; it wasn’t a wicked laugh and a crooked smile, nor the shine of golden hair and sun-drenched flesh stretched beside him in the sand day after day. It was Antony and Cleopatra, Tristan and Isolde, Paolo and Francesca…not this, not them, not him: Neville, and the beautiful, oblivious boy who filled his dreams.
A bit of a tortured Neville, here, but teenagers tend to be filled with angst.
What MEMORIES did you take a look at, this week?
Sometimes, we write little moments and interactions that we love…but they serve no extra purpose to the overall story. For me, this represents one of those moments:
Ross snorted and laughed in the same breath, at once recalling that afternoon on the beach when he’d been just shy of twenty-one, freshly returned from Torpoint and eager to be a civilian again, free to ride the waves, with Neville sitting beside him in the sand. And how Neville had started to have The Talk with him, only to be interrupted by Ross’s pointed and unconcerned recognition of the reason behind his friend’s mumbling and hawing:
“Are you trying to tell me that you’re gay?” Ross had asked, with some impatience.
Neville had stared at him for a long pause of time, his expression unreadable. Then he’d murmured, quite quietly: “…Yeah.”
Ross had considered that for a moment, then asked: “Do you fancy me?”
“Wh-?” Neville had sputtered, as he’d given a quick shake of his head. “God, no! You’re a breeder…!”
“Well, then, no worries, mate,” Ross had told him then, hitting him in the shoulder with the back of his hand before forcing himself to his feet. “Now, come on; I want to catch some waves before supper.”
And that had been the end of the discussion, so far as Ross had been concerned. Neville was simply Neville; and if his friend being gay meant that Ross didn’t have to compete with him (handsome, stylish, good-guy Neville) for the attentions of any pretty girls in the village, all the better.
So the very thought that their friendship could be about anything more than the mutual platonic interests in their surfing or the shop made Ross laugh again.
I really like the flashback exchange that happens between Ross and Neville, but it’s unnecessary explanation. By the time this flashback occurs, the reader should already know that Ross and Neville are good friends, and each one’s sexual preference has no bearing on that friendship.
Readers are free to read into text what they want, of course, and Ross’s perspective might even be different from Neville’s. But to take valuable reader time to make that explanation seemed like a lot of extra words, no matter how much I enjoyed the flow of them.
Have you ever edited out a scene or conversation that you really liked? Did you agree with that decision? Or, did you regret it?
This week’s prompt for the 100 Word Challenge for Grown-Ups was to write a sonnet. The rules are the same as my “real” entry – “Daddy and the Dragon” – so I won’t repeat them here.
This is actually a second entry, of sorts. Since April 20 (4/20) is a special day for the marijuana counterculture, I decided to try my hand at a pseudo-love sonnet/ode to the herb. And I really hope that Shakespeare is not rolling in his grave over this albeit-well-meaning transgression.
Caressing air, their lips part only just.
It’s smoke between, like kisses given sweet.
A blow, a breath, a quest for chastened lust.
Their mouths move close, but, ‘las, they never meet.
‘It’s hardly fair,’ he thinks, to come so close
To kiss those lips ’bout which he spends his dreams.
Though, this they have to share: a tiny dose
Of weed that lifts them up beyond their seams.
Escape, escape, to wide and open air.
It’s fleeting joy, a wond’rous herbal high.
But, just one moment, drift, they do, and share
This simple, almost-kiss, spoken in a sigh.
He pulls away. The fleeting moment’s gone.
But, lit in hand, there waits another one.
A frozen moment in time of two friends sharing a bit of herbal love. Not quite a love sonnet in the typical sense, but fun nevertheless.