A novel idea

Looking through my old files, I came across one of (many) attempts at novel writing. I love cool discoveries and don’t even remember when I wrote this.

Personally, I don’t know how I feel about it but I do need some constructive criticism on it. I already have the outline for the rest of it in my head and I would place this excerpt at around chapter 3 or 4 or so.

I respectfully request your help.

Read it. If you like it, great! Let me know. If you don’t like it, that’s okay too and still let me know. I just want and need your honest opinion. I’m inviting you to play the role of novel critic.  How many chances do you get to do that?

I think a contest is in order here.

Write your comments in the comments section below or email them to me @ nelleytimes@gmail.com

There must be at least 25 entries (via comments section below and/or email) for the contest to be valid. The winner will receive a $25 Visa Gift card, redeemable anywhere VISA is accepted.

I’ve tentatively titled it ‘Rebound Girl’ but that can always change based on my whims.

Go ahead now, read on:

Chapter 3: Julianne

It’s 5am and I should be asleep right now. I have to get up in 3 hours to get ready for work so getting back to sleep right away is imperative.

Any second now.

Sleep.

Sleeeeep.

I need to sleep.

Now.

Anytime now.

Sighing, I give up and try to move but I fall back almost immediately. I forgot. He’s still here. He spent the night. His arm is a dead weight across my chest and it’s pining me down. I settle in and hope to use his body noises to lull me back to sleep. I can hear his heart beating and I can feel his gentle breath against the back of my neck. As I listen closer, his heart starts to beat erratically and his breathing becomes quick and shallow.  Secretly, I hope it stops completely. I don’t know why but his beating heart annoys me. His breathing annoys me. I want it to stop and for him to go away.  I also want it to mean more to me than it does. If I can make this work, then I’m set for life. I can focus on everything else I’ve always wanted in life. I can check this off the list and settle in. Which is what I want.

I think.

I think I love him but I don’t know. I don’t know where the anger came from when I left him and I don’t know if it will come back. Looking for new boys is so much fun. At least when it’s working. When it’s not working – not so much. Having that one person who gets you is so important and hard to find.  Those inside jokes; sharing intimate details of your life; and all the laughter and smiles that come with it.

He doesn’t get me.

He also has a girlfriend.

She’s new.

I can’t make him give up his girlfriend because I don’t know what I want and to make him leave her means I would be back in that space. I think it was better when I didn’t know what was going on. Now I know too much. I’m addicted to the knowledge. It’s become an obsession. A drug I crave and now can’t live without. It hurts me terribly but it also gives me a sadistic high to know about them without them knowing that I know. I make him do things for me too. As punishment of course. His guilty conscious has filled my wardrobe with designer dresses and high end shoes. His impure thoughts have sent us to some of the priciest restaurants in town.

Playing innocent is such fun.

I wonder sometimes if I’m the wife  or the mistress in this.

The wifey or the whore.

The wifey knows all but also knows she has the power. The whore is in the know too but is delusional about her place. She wants to be the wifey but will never be. I secretly go through all his stuff now.

He loves her, his emails say.

She’s his girlfriend, he texts to her.

But she hasn’t met his family yet and she wants to. Though his emails keep pushing it back. Many excuses as to why she can’t. I know the real reason though. It’s because he still wants me. He still wants to be with me. I have his heart. I am his heart. I am his past, his first big love and his future. I am everything he wants but can’t have. He tried to own me before and I fled. She’s just the rebound girl. He was using her to get over me and now that I’m back, he’s using her to get back at me. I’m sure she’s cute, she seems sweet and I bet she’s a lot of fun but his heart isn’t there. It can’t be. It’s still with me.

But now he’s lying to me too. He’s lying to us both.

What do I want? I don’t know.

I want it all and I want it badly. I want the safety and the freedom. The comfort and the excitement. The love and the lust.

I don’t want to make a decision I‘ll regret. I’ve broken his heart too many times.  If he wants to be with her then all this will come to an end eventually. The relief will settle in and then the tears will flow. Hearts will break. Dreams will be broken. New ones will form. A new life will begin.  My life can begin. I’ll be very happy for them.

I’ll be so very happy for the very happy couple.

Checking the clock: 5:45AM.

Dammit.

I turn slightly in bed and gaze at his face. He looks so peaceful. So handsome. His long lashes flutter while he sleeps.

Suddenly, his eyes slip open. He looks dreamily at me and smiles. His eyes slide closed again as I smile back and he tightens his grip on me.

A love grip. Or a death grip.

A love grip I decide. I settle in. Content for the moment.

They won’t last anyway, I say to myself.

She’s just the rebound girl and the rebound girl never wins.

So there you have it. Love it? Hate it? Locked safely in neutral?  Either way, let me know your reaction(s). Don’t be shy, I welcome your constructive criticism or outlandish praise. Once again, submit your comments below or via email to nelleytimes@gmail.com. Good or bad, positive or negative, up versus down, one thing’s definitely for sure.

There’s more to come. 😉

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7 thoughts on “A novel idea

  1. Janelle,

    I like it, after reading it I want to read more. I need to know what happens in the beginning and and end. Please finish up so that I can! I LOVE reading your blog each week!! Hope you well and good luck!!

  2. Hey,

    At first i thought it was your excuse not to write a blog this week but when I continued reading it, its pretty good. Reminds me of one of those ‘red dress’ novels you love to read. Hope all else is well.

    • Oh sweetie, you know me too well. lol! It started off as an easy excuse but developed into so much more. The feedback I’m getting is wonderful and is helping me to better shape my thoughts and ideas for my next attempt. Thanks for reading darling! And red dress ink ROCKS! 🙂

  3. First, a disclaimer: this is not my type of thing. In terms of subject matter, this is not something I would read; by the same token, it isn’t aimed at people like me. That’s just a question of taste. With that in mind, I’ll focus on the stylistic elements, rather than the subject matter.

    Sooooo….

    First person narrative – why? I’m not saying there’s necessarily anything wrong with the first person; some of the greatest books ever written were written that way. However, that was then and this is now. The first person is passe; it’s been done to death. Doesn’t mean you can’t use it, but it does mean that if you are going to use it, you need to have powerful reasons to do so. From this excerpt, I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t have been done in the second person. After all, we live in the postmodern era; it’s no longer acceptable to have an ‘I’ without a ‘you’. If these events are being related by the protagonist, who is she talking to?

    In the first passage, “his gentle breath” doesn’t really fit with the image a few lines earlier, of being trapped under the “dead weight” of his arm, or her wish, a couple of lines later, that his heart would stop beating. It’s clear that she’s in two minds about this situation, but the ‘gentle’ is out of context in a passage that is otherwise wholly negative. If there were a few more tender words in there, balancing out her almost murderous thoughts, we might see the ambiguity, but right now, ‘gentle’ seems like a mistake.

    Imagery: “His arm is a dead weight across my chest” – cliche. A strong metaphor would do wonders here.

    “I am his heart”; “A drug I crave and now can’t live without”; these are metaphors we’ve all heard before. They may accurately describe the character’s feelings, but they’re so familiar that they serve mainly to remind the reader of where they last heard the same phrase, destroying the necessary compact of self-deception between writer and audience.

    “Hearts will break. Dreams will be broken.” Break and broken; virtually the same word within two short sentences. Likewise “A new life will begin. My life can begin” and “I’m set for life. I can focus on everything else I’ve always wanted in life”. Repetition can be very effective, but only when used correctly; that is, sparingly. It works here: “his beating heart annoys me. His breathing annoys me” because we’re dealing with concrete things – a beating heart, breathing – rather than the abstract – life, dreams, etc. It also works in the last example because the narrator is irritated, and the repetition serves to highlight that irritation by mimicing the repetative sensations of breath and heartbeat that annoyed her in the first place. It makes us feel, to some extent, what she’s feeling.

    Which brings me nicely to a more general point. It’s become something of a cliche in creative writing classes (as absurd as that idea is in itself), but there is some truth in the old maxim: ‘Show, don’t tell.’ Don’t tell us what a character is feeling, show us. Make us feel how she feels, instead of simply hearing it directly from her. Use the language to create an atmosphere in which we can’t help but feel something of what she’s feeling; this is what imagery, metaphor, simile and all that other stuff they taught you about in school is for.

    Lastly, it’s too long. Everything that is gotten across in the passage could have been gotten across with less words. The repetition is part of this, but only part. The ideas themselves are re-expresssed multiple times in different words. When attempting a novel, there’s always a temptation to pad things out; 60-80,000 words seems like an almost insurmountable target. But it’s not; if the story’s got legs, it will run towards that target faster than you would think possible. Every word should count. Every sentence should be examined; is it really necessary? Does it add anything to plot, character development, or atmosphere? If not, it should be ruthlessly eliminated. A tightly written 10,000 word story is far more pleasurable to read than a padded 60,000 word novel, and will be remembered far longer.

    On the plus side: the style is consistent, and flows quite nicely. The use of fragmented sentences and single-word paragraphs is effective. The narrator’s voice seems authentic, by which I mean, she sounds like a real person rather than a made-up character.

    If there was nothing of merit in the piece, I wouldn’t have bothered writing such a long critique. I’ve learned from experience that honest criticism is worth far more than inarticulate praise, and that’s why I’m offering my opinion.

    Just think of me as Simon Cowell. 🙂

  4. Pingback: For the Love of Food « Living, with 'Nelley

  5. I like where this is going. I don’t usually read novels that are “juicy”, but this looked like it was just starting to get good- then I started to drift off a little when you were talking about the girlfriend. Oh and did the main charecter read the emails and texts? how does she know all this stuff? is it just assumptions. I don’t like that she is a new girlfriend either and he says he loves her.
    I like the way you wrote the paragraphs, like i said- i started to drift a little with the girlfriend talk. Maybe it was because it was a long paragraph. Maybe you can reform it somehow to make it “snap” more. i do know I don’t like him- cheating bastard!

    overall I like it 🙂 can’t wait to see what you do with it and where it goes

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