Monday, May 27, 2019

Drop the Needle: ANGER #7

TITLE: Truth in the Treetops
GENRE: YA contemporary with paranormal elements

This is on Saturday night, after Gabby doesn't contact CJ for days because she's been told by someone untrustworthy at school that he's using her. 

I pull on the door handle, step back and cross my arms. “What are you doing here?”

“Yeah, Gabby, nice to see you, too.” CJ jams his hands into his jeans’ pockets and lifts his shoulders. “What’s going on? You don’t respond to my texts or calls. You haven’t even attempted to talk to me for the last two days. First, I thought you were sick, but you would’ve at least texted me. At least I would hope so. What gives? Why are you ignoring me all of the sudden? Did I do something I’m not aware of?” His stony gray eyes burn a hole in mine.

I glance past him into the night, avoiding his pointed glare, an ache throbbing in my chest.

CJ takes a step closer and stops. “Can I come in? Please? Maybe you can tell me what’s going on.”

I nod, leading him into the family room and take a seat on the sofa. CJ shrugs off his coat and sits on the chair across from me, resting his elbows on his knees. “Talk to me. What’s up? Is it because of what happened last Saturday at your race? Because I talked to Asha? Gabby, I’m only trying to help, make sure you’re okay. I was so worried about you.” He drops his gaze to the floor. “Especially when you passed out at the finish. I’m sorry if I talked to Asha and your parents about it, but I was worried about you. Scared.” He shakes his head. “Sorry, I keep saying that, but it’s the truth.”

7 comments:

  1. It's a nice scene, but to me, the anger isn't coming through. It sounds more like CJ is pleading with her. It says his eyes burn and he's glaring, but I'm not feeling it. Perhaps have him do somethibg that shows his anger. Maybe put in an exclamtion point to show he's raising his voice? Or lowers it, because her parents may be home? We need to see the anger and feel it.

    Some word change suggestions

    ... and lifts his shoulders//and shrugs.
    You don't respond...//you don't answer
    You have even attempted to talk//You haven't even talked
    All of the sudden//all of a sudden
    CJ takes a step//CJ steps
    And take a seat// and sits
    He drops his gaze//He stares at

    It just seems too stiff and formal in those parts.

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  2. Hi there,

    I don't see any glaring issues with this scene. I like the setup and the dialogue flows pretty well. But since the theme here is anger, I wanted to mention that I'm not really getting that vibe. Worry or frustration, yes, but not really anger. Not sure if you really need to change anything, but wanted to mention it in case you want to ramp up that particular emotion. Good luck with this project!

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  3. This definitely has me curious about the larger story, so good job with that. I think you might want to break up the long paragraphs of CJ's dialogue with reactions from Gabby, even non-verbal ones. Is she deliberately not answering, or is he not giving her a chance to reply? I'm getting a strong sense of CJ's feelings, but not so much from the narrator herself. I'm guessing that she's conflicted? If so, I'd love to see that conflict drawn out. It could really help heighten the scene's tension. Good luck!

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  4. I’ve read two previous comments on this excerpt but have a different impression as to who the angry character is. The first line tells me it’s Gabby, not CJ:
    I pull on the door handle, step back and cross my arms. “What are you doing here?”
    The above line is so believable and, for me, set the perturbed (if not out-and-out angry) tone straightaway. However, the anger lost momentum when CJ repeatedly asks questions and Gabby fails to have a response. Here are my thoughts as I read:

    “Yeah, Gabby, nice to see you, too.” CJ jams his hands into his jeans’ pockets and lifts his shoulders. (I suggest having CJ roll his eyes or something to ensure that the reader definitely gets that he’s being sarcastic when he says, “nice to see you, too.”)

    “What’s going on? You don’t respond to my texts or calls. You haven’t even attempted to talk to me for the last two days. First, I thought you were sick, but you would’ve at least texted me. At least I would hope so. What gives? Why are you ignoring me all of the sudden? Did I do something I’m not aware of?” His stony gray eyes burn a hole in mine.
    (I’m not a fan of serial questions. I kept waiting for a response from Gabby, even an unspoken one. Also, some of the dialogue seemed unnatural. Here’s an example of less stilted dialogue that allows the reader a glimpse into what Gabby is thinking:
    “What’s going on? You don’t respond to my texts or calls and you haven’t tried to talk to me for two days.”
    I shake my head and study the texture of the plaster ceiling. Why did he have to come over?
    “At first, I thought you were sick,” he continues, “but you would’ve texted me, right? What gives? Why are you ignoring me?” I look at him and press my lips together. “Oh, come on, Gabby. Did I do something?” His stony gray eyes burn a hole into mine.

    I glance past him into the night, avoiding his pointed glare, an ache throbbing in my chest. (Gabby seems to go from angry to hurt here, which explains why other comments didn’t find the anger in this piece. Also, “glare” gives the impression that CJ is angry. Perhaps Gabby needs to express her change in emotions and a different word could be found for “glare.”)

    CJ takes a step closer and stops. “Can I come in? Please? Maybe you can tell me what’s going on.”
    (“and stops” isn’t necessary. Taking a single step closer implies the stop.)

    I nod, leading him into the family room and take a seat on the sofa. CJ shrugs off his coat and sits on the chair across from me, resting his elbows on his knees. “Talk to me. What’s up? Is it because of what happened last Saturday at your race? Because I talked to Asha? Gabby, I’m only trying to help, make sure you’re okay. I was so worried about you.” He drops his gaze to the floor. “Especially when you passed out at the finish. I’m sorry if I talked to Asha and your parents about it, but I was worried about you. Scared.” He shakes his head. “Sorry, I keep saying that, but it’s the truth.” (Again, a lot of questions which come across less than natural. What would you think of something like this:

    “Talk to me. What’s up? Are you angry because of what happened last Saturday at your race? Is it because I talked to Asha? I was trying to help, to make sure you were okay.” He drops his gaze to the floor and I run my fingers through my hair. He sounds sincere, but can I trust him? “I’m sorry I talked to Asha and your parents,” he went on, “but you had passed out at the finish and I was worried about you. I was worried and scared.” He shakes his head. “Sorry to keep saying that, but it’s the truth.”

    I like the tension between the characters. They both come across as likable and real. I wish you all the best.

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