Saturday, February 5, 2011

You've Come A Long Way Blogfest

Chris over at the Writer's Hole is hosting a blogfest today. It's to celebrate the four year anniversary of working on her novel and how far she's come.

How far we've come indeed. Need a history lesson on my some old posts. Learning the craft, honing it, and applying it to a story I love has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.

The You've Come A Long Way Blog Fest is a great idea. I love reading about how writers have evolved and keep evolving.

I am new to all this Festing of the Blogging. I hope I don't feck it we go...

Think of a piece of your writing from when you started out. I mean the early days. I've read some of my first attempts at my novel and snorted out loud. 'Twas that bad.

I will post a piece from the MS I've been writing since July of 2009. It was called By Grace Alone then. I wanted some vague opening about death and loss. Very Omni, very artsy-fartsy. Very Very Bad. I was trying too hard.

I held onto the concept of it but since then it's morphed into a less than one page prologue that gives a tease into the future.

The original piece of doo-doo:

People die. Heartless when put that way but it doesn’t make it any less true. Parents die, husbands die, even babies die. We pay homage to a decaying body with vibrant colorful flowers. The aromatic tokens will eventually rot too. Give the dead something that wilts and perishes along with them. Kind of idiotic when you think about it, cruel if you truly pondered it. But still, it’s what we all do. It’s our way of proving to the rest of the world that this person mattered to us. They were loved, cherished, and even missed. But if the dead could speak, would they tell us to move on? Stop standing over them blubbering with stupid sentiments? Probably. But there is something morbid, even narcissistic in the human condition, the inability to let the dead be dead. We just can’t seem to let go.

I know you rolled your eyes. I sure as hell did.

My MS is now titled Meet Me In Jersey. Here is the latest version of the opening:

 Philadelphia, a few months from now…

People die, every day. Heartless, perhaps, but it doesn’t make it any less true. They die in car accidents, lying in hospital beds, waiting to be born, and if they are lucky enough, in the arms of someone they love.

Right now, Grace didn’t feel so lucky. As Miguel held her close to his chest she heard him pray to a God she’d forsaken long ago. Whispers of love and hope left his lips, urging her to stay with him, with them. His pleas sounded over the boom of howling sirens, forcing her tired eyes open. Tears streaked his face and they reflected in shades of blue and red. Their salty bitterness mixed with the taste of his sweet kiss pressing against her mouth.

She fought with what little life remained in her weary body and yet her hand continued to slip from his, the light from this world faded into the next.

People die, yes, life taught her as much. But love never does. Her love for him never did, never would. Love was all she had left to give and prayed it was enough to live.

What are your thoughts? Don't be blowin' smoke up me arse either. This opening has been through the ringer. I have about ten versions, for reals.

What I learned over time is that you cannot betray your voice. You can't try and be all literary in your prologue than change the tone of your voice in chapter 1. It became really clear that people thought my original diatribe about death was a wee bit of a Debbie Downer.

Have fun all and I can't wait to read yours!

Head over to the blog fest to sign up, read, and learn. Holla back people.


  1. Ye've come a long way lassie ... and 'tis a lovely passage! :-) Now, get back to work!

  2. NICE!!! I love this: People die, yes, life taught her as much. But love never does.

    The voice is great and so are the words. Great job, Charli. Now go snag an agent already:)Or an editor.

    Just one thing: every day should be two words. Sorry! Had to say...

  3. See all ur hard work was well worth it!

  4. Thanks chicas. And thanks for the typo find Mart. And yes AJ, I am getting back to work.

  5. People die, every day. In car accidents, lying in hospital beds, waiting to be born but, if they very lucky, they die in the arms of someone they love.

    You have written with voice; I felt an emotional connection. Your writing shows you have come a long way in your writing journey.

  6. Wow, C. The voice, the words, they touched me--I FELT the emotions. Without a doubt, you have come a long way!
    Beautiful--oh and I ain't blowing no smoke up your arse!

  7. Ooooh, the second version is so much more immediate--NICE!!!!!!!!

  8. Wow, that was impressive! You have an amazing gift for imagery. I love the blue and red reflections on the tears.

    I would cut the second sentence, though. It seems to flow better to me without it.

    As someone who lives near Philadelphia, I can easily imagine what happened to this woman. (shudder)

    Love the shore, baby! Thanks so much for participating.

  9. As I read the first version I was thinking: all it needs is a POV to anchor this sentiment. (I don't know who Debbie Downer is)

    The second version provided that emotional attachment. Bravo, and well done.

    I'll go a step further, however. Since the POV character appears to die in this segment, this is either a prolog, or the whole novel is written as a flashback.

    I don't normally like prologues; but I think this one will work. It works for me b/c it is not info that feels will be repeated in the text of the novel. It is the end, and I'm a fan of endings :)

    But it is also limiting as a prologue. This foreshadowing lets the reader know that the character they come to love and sympathize with will die. So the author would have to be sure the life the reader follows with this character is worthy of our respect and devotion. I will not only want to cry for this character, but for the devoted loved one's she leaves behind.

    Unless - - This is the beginning of a ghost/angel type story.

    Both are powerful themes; and I think your revision worthy of either outcome. My heart seeks an answer either way.

    A beautiful entry.


  10. Thanks for all the comments everyone! Truly made my heart smile. :)

    Lots of great feedback and things to reflect on/work on.

    It means a lot you all stopped by and were moved to read and respond. That is the best feeling in the world as a writer.

  11. Hi Charli,

    I agree with the others. Great second one. Going into the story much earlier really helped me, for I don't prefer long description. The rhythm of the words also became so much more fluid.

    I especially like the tone here: "Love was all she had left to give and prayed it was enough to live."
    Thank you for stopping by at my blog as well.
    Nahno ∗ McLein

  12. Sorry I'm a bit late commenting! You've definately come a long way, that second one was a lot better than the first - much smoother in the reading.