So this is taken from a novel I’m writing. It is still in ‘first draft’ form. Nita’s name may yet change.
When Nita thought about those months now, she realised that there had, of course, been signs. She supposed that there were always signs in situations like the one she had been in, it just depended on whether or not you looked for them. She had not looked, because she had been clinging to hope, desperately, even as it inevitably slipped through her fingers as surely as cupped water will if held for more than a few moments. But she had been holding onto the hope for so very long; how could she have just abandoned it?
The first sign was in fact in the immediate aftermath of the party. He seemed distracted, not quite present in their conversations the way he had been. It wasn’t the same as when his concentration wavered due to the stress of impending exams, even though that’s what Nita told herself it was. He would switch off partway through one of her stories, smiling absently to himself, clearly lost in a pleasant thought that did not concern her. When that happened, panic would curl its unwanted fingers around her heart, but then he would drift back into the moment with an apology, sometimes even an attentive question to show that he had been listening. The fingers would relax their grip, she’d smile, and things would go back to normal.
Perhaps the subtlety of this clue was why she had missed it, and Nita still often convinced herself that this was the case. However, she could not excuse herself for ignoring much of what followed, the ever inventive excuses, the clear agitation laced through what had once been easy, flowing conversation. He had always been effortlessly charismatic, both publicly and privately, and he remained so in others’ presence – just not in hers.
On the day her world collapsed, they didn’t even notice her standing in the doorframe for a solid thirty seconds. That they didn’t see her was almost more painful that what she witnessed; she had been invisible her entire life and not minded, but she minded then. And even as they did notice, a split second before she turned on her heel to leave, even as the tears streaked down her face, she knew she had no real right to be affronted.
Feedback will be very appreciated. I have a plot in mind and am moving that along, but realised I was struggling a bit with characterisation. Part of that, I think, is understanding characters’ pasts. So, I thought I would put one of the ‘reflective’ bits I’ve written for Nita, a main character, out into the blogosphere and see what people thought 🙂
9 thoughts on “Excerpt: Nita’s Story”
OMG! You’re writing a novel? Ahh yayyyy excitingness! 🎈🎈🎈😊😊😊
So I had a read through, and the first thought that came to mind was that you’re definitely don’t seem to be “struggling” when it comes to characterisation! 🙂 😊 To use that phrase “showing not telling” again – I think you did an awesome job of it when you were describing the warning signs which led up to the relationship breakdown. My favourite part was when you described the guy as “…being lost in a pleasant thought which didn’t concern her” and then Nita panicking over that – but immediately feeling better once he smiled and showed her attention again. Oh my… So familiar! In my opinion, this is a very realistic potrayal of a girl madly in love, and who really wants and needs to believe that she’s receiving love back (even if, unfortunately, she isn’t.)
In light of that, I would therefore suggest that the first paragaph is actually unnecessary – because all the things you’re describing in that paragraph (ie: Nita clinging onto hope, failing to see the signs) are inferred from the way she responds to the guy’s waning attentiveness. You “show” all those things in the second paragraph whereas in the first you “tell” them. So the first paragraph isn’t even needed, really. But this is just a suggestion. 😊
Btw, I also LOVED the line: “He had always been effortlessly charismatic, both publicly and privately, and he remained so in others’ presence – just not in hers.” Once again, very familiar, relatable, and feels like an accurate depiction of human behaviour.
I also enjoyed this sentence: “However, she could not excuse herself for ignoring much of what followed, the ever inventive excuses, the clear agitation laced through what had once been easy, flowing conversation…” but one other tiny suggestion I would give here is that there’s something about the phrasing “…the clear agitation laced through…” which seems a little bit off to me grammatically. I’m not a grammar expert myself, so please forgive me if I’m totally wrong and have no idea what I’m talking about 😊 But I think it might sound a little more polished if you said something like “…the clear agitation which tainted…”
I’m also really intrigued by the ending line, where you’ve mentioned that Nita felt she had “no right to be affronted.” Once again, RELATABLE or what???!!! 😊😊😊 This has got me wondering whether Nita’s affection was a completely one-sided, wishful fantasy love all along and didn’t even turn into a full relationship at any point (which would explain why she feels like she has no right to be affronted.) 😔 That possibility makes me root for Nita and feel for her even more!
Excited to see where this goes plot-wise! 😊
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Thanks so much for the detailed feedback Yusra! Yep, well, attempting to write a novel anyway! The long term dream is to become an author, been the dream since I was old enough to write words on a page, only just started to take it seriously again though 🙂
Thank you for saying that there doesn’t seem to be an issue with characterisation. I guess – well – you see, it took me about five times as long to write these words than if I’d been writing a similar length scene where things were ‘happening’ so to speak. But since you’re saying that, the time put in is worth it 🙂
You’re right, the first paragraph could be axed, or maybe at least shortened – I might try to shorten it.
Oh the ‘laced’ thing – I think I know what’s happening here (could be entirely wrong, please correct me if so). It’s taken me ages to think of examples to illustrate what’s in my head but essentially, these are two ways of using it, I THINK, and I meant number 1, not number 2 which you may be reading it as?:
1) The poison laced through the food was deadly.
2) She laced the food with poison.
However the more I think about it the more my sentence still seems off haha so I will change it. Omg and you’re a lit student, that’s more of a grammar expert than me, I have not studied English or English literature or anything related formally since age 15 lol! (Oh apart from evening ‘Introduction to creative writing’ classes weekly for a couple of months haha but this was not something resulting in a qualification)
I’m really glad you liked it! And I absolutely love that you’re having so many thoughts about what might be going on – everything that ran through your mind was what I wanted to run through the reader’s mind so that’s very good 🙂
Thanks again 🙂 🙂 🙂 I am so so so grateful for your feedback!! 🙂
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Oh wow – well we are in the same boat then! 😉 That’s been my dream since childhood too, but I have only just begun to take it seriously as well… Wishing you all the best and lots and lots of love and luck in your writerly journey! ❤️
You know what, I think you’re right about the “laced” thing – I was interpreting it as number 2 and that was my mistake. Apologies for that 😊 I haven’t come across the number 1 usage as much, which is why I automatically assumed number 2 – but I was wrong to do that… and kudos to you for teaching me something new! And don’t worry, formal education isn’t necessarily a guarantee of anything… When it comes to something like writing a novel, passion and good old hard work and graft are far more important! 😊
Creative writing classes sound really fun… I wish there was something similar in my local area! 😊
You’re welcome, and best of luck with the next part 😊
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Thanking you very much, and all the best to you as well!
Haha no need to apologise – I may have just invented number 1?!
There isn’t much in my area apart from that course, so now I’ve turned to the online world for support and so on and so forth 🙂 And thanks to lovely people like you, I’m getting it!
I sure hope you’re right. I essentially made a sciences vs arts decision during GCSE’s and occasionally feel at a disadvantage – though most of the time it just pushes me on to read more, and keep going 🙂
I like. Hurry up and write your novel okay? 🙂
Haha thanks v much 🙂 I’ll try!!
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Would you be interested in a joint creative writing exercise? Basically we create two characters that are simply talking to each other. Both characters take turns talking. It’s kind of like improv.
Dialogue isn’t even necessary. We can take turns writing sentences, building off what the other has said.
It could be fun 🙂
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Hey! That sounds like fun, how should we go about it? 🙂
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