Excerpt from XIII: Strophe

Sometimes it’s fun to open the proverbial drawer and take a look at old writing, even when you don’t think you’ll ever revisit it again. About two years ago, I got the crazy idea that I might revise XIII, my old series and one of my favorite things I’ve written. I’m still bothered by the fact that XIII remains completely finished but mostly unedited; I suppose I have a hard time letting go, which is why I return to it at times. My mind wants to “complete the circuit.” Upon looking through the most recent revisions, I found that my writing is passable but still needs work. There’s something about it that’s “missing,” but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.

This excerpt is from the September 2015 revision of Chapter 11 of the first book in the series, STROPHE,* which introduces the main characters who remain in play for most of the series and hints at the upcoming supernatural conflict (related to demigods and Greek mythology).

Low, murmuring voices broke into her thoughts. Gavin was speaking to his mother, but Naomi couldn’t hear a word they were saying, and from where she stood on the stairs, she could see only the gray streaks in Gavin’s mother’s hair as the light from the television flickered over them.

“Naomi,” Gavin said, and she followed his voice until she joined him on the couch opposite the plush recliner in which his mother rested.

Ms. Dufford was a squat mushroom of a woman; she had a smooth, youngish face that betrayed little emotion, and as Naomi moved closer and stretched out her hand for her to shake, she caught the scent of mold on the air, as though the woman were releasing spores. “Hi,” Naomi said. She put on her best school spirit smile and waited for Ms. Dufford to take her hand.

She did not. “I heard my stepdaughter admiring your outfit,” she said.

Naomi dropped her hand and slipped it into her other, which she hid behind her back. “She said she liked it,” she said.

As Sylvia had done, Ms. Dufford glanced at Naomi, who shivered involuntarily, like the woman’s gaze itself emitted dust that tickled her skin.

“Naomi and I are going back up to my room,” Gavin said. He took Naomi’s hand and threaded his fingers in hers. His hand felt clammy, like he was feverish. The entire house seemed to have taken on a dismal cast that not even the bright, smiley commercials on the television could lift.

“You do that. I hope you will remember what I told you,” Ms. Dufford said.

Feedback is welcome.

*strophe [n]: (1) the movement of the classical Greek chorus while turning from one side to the other of the orchestra; (2) the part of a Greek choral ode sung during the strophe of the dance.

Seven Lines Challenge

For this challenge, you’re supposed to go to page 7 of your WiP, count down 7 lines, share 7 lines or sentences, and then tag 7 other writers.

I was tagged by ellDimensional on Tumblr, and I posted a bit from my main WiP there, but here’s a slice from my secondary WiP, HEDGEHOG’S DILEMMA, which I’m writing totally by the seat of my pants.

~~~

Out of sheer laziness, and because there was no other club whose members actually left her alone, Holly  had chosen the FFA. The students teased her about that, too, saying that instead of showing prized Holstein heifers, they could just show Holly at the local student competition.

Holly preferred the crops aspect of the FFA, which enabled her to get lost in the scent of the dirt, the feel of the grit under her fingernails, and the occasional taste of pesticide if she happened to have her mouth open while someone was spraying it, which was often.

The club met outside in front of the school, where they were tending a box of moribund pansies.

~~~

I didn’t tag anyone on Tumblr because I don’t have too many friends there, but I tag the following bloggers: Adventures in Writing, Invisible Ink, E on Publishing, Scribbling in the Storage Room, Ally Cat with a Pen, Tara Is a Rock Star, and Anthony Lee Collins. I understand that some of you may not have a writing-related WiP, but I’m tagging you anyway because you’re awesome. 🙂

Everyone’s a Villain in Some Way

I finished writing my current WiP on Sunday (still tentatively titled “See Them Break”), and it turned out OK for a first draft (time and re-reads will reveal how truly bad it is, as all first drafts are). I started out with a very rough outline of 60 scenes that I threw together back in December/January. Usually when I make an outline, I don’t follow it exactly. I sometimes realize after I’ve finished writing a scene that I did something different from what was originally outlined, and I don’t bother going back to change it. With this story, I didn’t have too many deviations from the outline.

What I noticed while writing is that all of my characters have managed to show their “dark side” and be somewhat villainous, even Isabel, who has historically been the “good girl” character. So I can’t with 100% certainty say who my antagonists and my protagonists are because they all serve to antagonize (and protagonize?) each other. I’m happy that my characters have evolved so much that they’re not strictly “good guys” and “bad guys” anymore. Writing is supposed to imitate life, and there’s good and bad in everybody, so characters ought to reflect that.

The best part about these blurred lines of morality is that I’ve been catapulted straight into the next story, and I already have a ton of ideas for it. (But no title. Not even a tentative one.)