Monday, May 27, 2019

Drop the Needle: ANGER #6

TITLE: Never Say Never
GENRE: YA YA Romance

When we got home, Mom was sitting on the living room couch, waiting for us. 

“Never do that to me again,” she said to me, her voice flat.

I didn’t answer. I didn’t know if she would give me another reason to scare her that way, to keep me from wanting to come home. I stomped up the stairs and slammed the door.

The yelling started. First Dad, pissed off that Mom had exposed me to this in the first place. Then Mom, complaining about raising me all on her own while he traveled, and that I grew more and more distant and angry. Then Dad, who complained about a whole host of things, differences in parenting, Mom putting pressure on me to be however she wanted me to be. Mom said Dad was too lax with me. Dad said she wasn’t who he married. Mom said she missed when he was fun. Dad laughed bitterly at that.

All the while, I sat on my bed, my arms wrapped around my knees, fervently wishing I could disappear. After a while, the words started to blur together. Dad’s bellow and Mom’s shriek blended together into cacophonous noise. I clapped my hands over my ears.

Anger started in my center and spread like a black hole, a violent force that crushed everything it came into contact with until I was all gone. I twisted with the emotion, screaming into my pillow, kicking my mattress, sick to fucking death of every nasty word spoken in this house, of the feeling that I should have done something to fix them, of how damn little I could actually do about it. The impotence of it dissolved into tears, cutting hot trails down my cheeks.

 

8 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this piece--the writing is fluid, smooth and captures the family dynamics really well! My one recommendation would be more "show" and less "tell"--the middle paragraph setting out the back and forth of the parents arguing comes off a bit "laundry list-ish" to me, and I think it would be more effective to both shorten the paragraph and use dialog between Mom and Dad (maybe with a focus on the MC, to explain the source of her rage and to personalize it a bit more). With that said, I was definitely intrigued, and I think you did a great job showing how a bad family situation can give rise to the kind of visceral rage the MC shows at the end of the piece.

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  2. I think this is good overall, gives a good sense of the family relationships, but I would reword the fourth paragraph which is too much like a list, going back and forth between mom and dad. Then I would swap the fourth and fifth paragraphs. I think they work better that way.

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  3. This has the potential to be an impactful scene by showing the parents arguing interspersed with how the MC feels. Dig deeper emotionally here. As is, the reader feels too distant. Keep up the good work! I am curious as to what happened before this scene.

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  4. Heartbreaking and poignant. I agree that some direct quotes from the parents' argument might pull the reader in more effectively. Also, the first sentence of the final paragraph is a little unwieldy. The image of a black hole is great, but maybe it could be split into two sentences. Good luck!

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  5. When we got home, Mom was sitting on the living room couch, waiting for us.

    “Never do that to me again,” she said to me, her voice flat.
    I didn’t answer. I didn’t know if she would give me another reason to scare her that way, to keep me from wanting to come home. I stomped up the stairs and slammed the door.

    What teen wouldn’t be able to identify with the above? Nice. My first reading of it didn’t read as you wanted, however. I suggest the following (which will also give it a deeper POV):
    I didn’t answer. How was I supposed to know if she’d give me another reason to scare her that way or to keep me from wanting to come home. I stomped . . .”

    The yelling started. (I suggest leaving this a line to itself for impact.)

    First Dad, pissed off that Mom had exposed me to this in the first place. Then Mom, complaining about raising me all on her own while he traveled, and that I grew more and more distant and angry. Then Dad, who complained about a whole host of things, differences in parenting, Mom putting pressure on me to be however she wanted me to be. Mom said Dad was too lax with me. Dad said she wasn’t who he married. Mom said she missed when he was fun. Dad laughed bitterly at that.

    For the most part, I found this back and forth “he said/she said” an effective way to get across the family dynamic. My only suggestions would be with regard to some tenses and a bit of sentence structuring:
    First, Dad was pissed off that Mom had exposed me to this in the first place. Then, Mom complained about raising me all on her own while he traveled, saying I was growing more and more distant and angry. Next, Dad complained about a whole host of things, such as differences in parenting and Mom putting pressure on me to be however she wanted me to be. Mom said Dad was too lax with me. Dad said Mom wasn’t who he had married. Mom said she missed when he was fun. Dad laughed bitterly at that one.

    All the while, I sat on my bed, my arms wrapped around my knees, fervently wishing I could disappear. After a while, the words started to blur together. Dad’s bellow and Mom’s shriek blended together into cacophonous noise. I clapped my hands over my ears.
    Suggest deleting:
    “Fervently” is not needed. You give a great description. We can sense her passion.
    “Started” I’m always slashing “started” and “began” in my manuscript. Often not needed. Rewrite:
    Eventually, the words blur together. Dad’s bellowing and Mom’s shrieking blend together into a cacophonous noise. (Love this image, btw.)

    Anger started in my center and spread like a black hole, a violent force that crushed everything it came into contact with until I was all gone. I twisted with the emotion, screaming into my pillow, kicking my mattress, sick to fucking death of every nasty word spoken in this house, of the feeling that I should have done something to fix them, of how damn little I could actually do about it. The impotence of it dissolved into tears, cutting hot trails down my cheeks.
    The above scene is awesome, though you start it weakly. You show us in great detail what your character is feeling but start it off by “telling” us. What does the anger feel like as it starts in the center of the girl? Say that and delete “anger” or delete the first sentence altogether (which I think I’d prefer). The remainder of the paragraph is powerful.

    Also, I find that the f-bomb detracts from the paragraph, perhaps because I could identify with everything else but don’t think in f-bombs. Just putting that out there.

    Great angry scene! Thanks for sharing it.

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