My friend over at Read Tom Lucas recently posted a great response to a writing challenge (to see where this idea originated, go here):
- Find the first use of the word “look” in your manuscript and post the surrounding couple of paragraphs as a first ‘look’ into your work.
- Answer the question, what makes you excited for this story?
I couldn’t help but open the latest draft of my manuscript, Rolling for Coal, hit control+F, and find the first “look.” I can’t say that I was too surprised to find it on the second page, eight paragraphs in. I reread the passage and then asked myself, should I follow Tom’s lead and post this sucker?
I answered my question with another: What was the point of looking for look if I didn’t believe there was something to see?
The truth is, I have a long way to go. I’m just past half-way through my second revision and I have just decided to write a new character into several of the chapters (including the first one). There’s a whole lot of writing left, but at the same time I’m ready to be read. Just a little bit.
Wouldn’t it be cool to let some of it go, unleash a few paragraphs and make it real? Besides, there is a good chance my family and friends think I’m full of it when I talk about my book.
Well, I will face this challenge. Unedited. Raw. Okay, that’s a bit much. Now I’m just stalling. Bloody hell, get on with it.
Here’s a first look:
“Go to your room,” I said. My voice jumped from one end of the piano to the other. “Now.”
Frankie stood still, his eyes stuck between focus and acceptance that our kitchen had just been turned on its side. I caught Pop in the corner of my eye, but I tried to stay focused on my little brother. There was seven years between us and he was a replica of me at his age: pickle-thin arms and legs, dusted brown hair in a tangled mop above naive wide-eyes. He tried to find a place to rest his thoughts; it was a blank face that I had seen before.
Things had gotten better, almost even normal. We could accept that she was locked in her room; we could even look past the fact that Pop now lived out of the same suitcase he brought through Ellis Island. We couldn’t understand what happened in our kitchen. Our safe place, where we shared warmth and denial, had been taken from us.
“Please kiddo, go.” Frankie held air in his lungs, probably to hold back the tears and make sure his mind wasn’t behind some sort of deception. The lack of tears had to be a sign that the look in Pop’s eyes would bury deep into his memory, never to be forgotten. He finally turned around and paced out the kitchen, through the sitting room, to the staircase that lead him back above us. His door shut and then it was just me and Pop.
Why am I excited about this story? The first draft wrote itself. Sure, I spent countless hours at the keys, but the characters seemed to do all the work, and I like them – even the ones that I shouldn’t. Now I just need to finish revising and editing the damn thing. I’m also excited because I know in the not too distant future I will be done, and then I can write the next one. And whether it is this one, that next one, or the one after that – one day I can sit in a coffee shop with my published author friends (wearing some sort of authorial outfit and a fu manchu) and say, “hey remember that writing challenge when we looked at look because we finally thought it was something worth seeing?”
Categories: Bloody Hell, Creative Writing, Revision, Rolling for Coal, Shameless Plug
Allow me to just say that anyone who has the words “Bloody Hell” anywhere on their blog must become my friend and fellow ally. You aren’t going to break into a bout of Cockney Rhyming Slang anytime soon though right? Apples and pears. Cheers!
Hahaha, bloody hell that’s right! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m a yank and since moving back to the US from the UK (about 6 months ago), my bloody hell days have waned! But I’m thinking just maybe I should bring it back! Sometimes I go back and read this old post about using “Bloody Hell” and it cracks me up – the scary thing is part of me was very serious (https://eternaldomnation.com/2012/01/27/bloody-hell-vs-the-j-man/)!!! Anyhow, thanks again.
Oh no! We must not let you reamericanise lol
I will save you! I live in the US right now too. I am trying to resist. I need these “S’s” and “U’s”
Bloody Hell never goes out of style. Really. Always fashionable. As is bugger. 🙂
Going to check it out now.
What a marvelous start. It makes me hungry to read the rest. If you need a beta reader you know where to find one. ME!
You better be careful, I will probably take you up on that! Thank you for your wonderful comment, I really appreciate your support.
Dom- I can NOT wait to read your book. Those paragraphs are fantastic – I can’t wait to read them all!!!!
Ooops! I just realized you’ve already done this challenge and I’ve just named you again. Don’t worry about repeating it. When people drop by, they’ll still read a ‘Look Challenge’ entry. 🙂
Thanks for sharing this – I think I’ll do the same thing in one of my posts next week. Sounds like we’re in the same spots with our current work. I’m going through the second draft one more time and after a comment from a beta reader, I’m changing point of view in a few chapters. Hopefully I’ll have it to my editor within the month. My best to you.
Fantastic. I am so glad that you took this challenge on…I was ready to read some of your work. There are several coffeeshops near my home that would fit the bill, so any time you want to fly over…and thanks for the link back!