Today I am sharing the first paragraph of a ‘on the back burner’ work in progress. It is the result of a National Novel Writing Month challenge, a couple of years ago. I am unsure if it will ever become a fully fledged novel, time will tell. I would welcome any feedback on this excerpt.
Do you ‘see’ Jess?
Do you get an idea of her background, her personality?
What genre do you think it is?
Would you read more?
Coming to University – Part One
Jess sat hugging the hot coffee mug in her hands, she may have looked relaxed and happy, but inside she was in turmoil. Her eyes scanned the many pedestrians walking back and forth on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop. Willing him – the one -to appear out of the crowd. Tall, blonde and athletic her first real crush, well as she called it – a grown up infatuation – not like the silly childish crushes, when she was at school back home. Here at university it was so different. She had independence from a worrywart doormat of a mother, who pushed her towards any ‘suitable’ young boy. “Make the right choice now, Jessie, and you will be happy. Don’t make my mistake and go for the ‘cool guy’. Her mother always whispered this advice least her distant and unemotional father heard. Jess tried to elicit more information from her mother on the subject, but it was always brushed aside.
The thought of the three of them eating in silence every evening meal at the dining table made her cringe. Jess once ventured to ask to eat in her room, mainly to escape the uncomfortable atmosphere; it was met with a horrified look on her mother’s face and a rage exploding from her father, which so terrified Jess she vomited there and then. This, of course, made the matter a hundred times worse. Her father stormed out of the room; slamming his study door so hard it propelled two pictures off the hallway wall. Her mother visibly shaking went into clean up mode immediately, running to the kitchen and filling a bowl of hot water and grabbing several rags to ‘save’ the carpet. Jess stood frozen in place, the vomit drying on her dress and chin as tears ran unbidden down her cheeks. It wasn’t until her mother pushed at her leg to reach a splash of vomit that either realized the other’s presence. “Get in the bath, Jessie and put that dress in the sink.” Having an instruction gave her body permission to move. She climbed the stairs, stripped and sat in the bath as it filled with water. Deep inside a switch turned, she needed to escape this house and find real love, someplace where people loved each other and were happy. At the time, at the tender age of eleven, she could only dream and secretly plan, but as the weeks and months passed, her escape route gradually formed. Her art teacher told her she had a real gift and after several conversations between them, they managed to find a grant-funded course for Jess in a university several hundred miles away. For Jess the distance was heaven sent almost as much as her teacher’s ability to get the grant on her behalf. With no costs to pay, her parents could not refuse Jess attending.
She announced her entrance into the university over another silent dinner table the day of graduation. Her mother looked at her wide-eyed, but Jess could see relief there too. Her father paused putting a mouthful of food in his mouth, looked directly at Jess and said, “Make the most of the opportunity.” He then continued eating, no good luck, and no congratulations – nothing. Later, her mother came into her bedroom and hugged her. “You will find someone wonderful Jessie, I am so happy for you.” Even then, her mother did not divulge any information on love and life or relationships, leaving Jess with a hope nurtured in her chest that she would indeed find love, a true love. Someone who made her happy, talked to her, listened to her, and gave her a wonderful life.
Thank you for participating. Your comments will be helpful.
August 8, 2021 at 11:54 am
In the first paragraph, I don’t “see” Jess. I see “him, the one,” I get a sense that her home life is not ideal, however, it doesn’t rise to the outrageous or dangerous level. I don’t have a clear vision of her personality, only that she’s not fond of her parents. I think you have a good working outline that just needs some beefing up. Without knowing more of the story line, I can’t say what genre it might be. Do we follow her childhood? YA Does she spend her energy finding love? Romance. Does she hook up with the wrong guy, dump him, and get stalked by him? Thriller/mystery.
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August 8, 2021 at 2:56 pm
Thanks Pamela, this is very useful feedback. It is the initial draft written during NaNo so yes it needs a lot of work. Take care.
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August 9, 2021 at 10:20 am
I see so many interesting possibilities. With your amazing writing chops, I know you will turn it into a fascinating read. Cheers!
August 9, 2021 at 10:44 am
Thank you Pamela. It is a draft that may lie idle for sometime, while I write my detective trilogy. 🙂