Don't Cry For Me

Don't Cry For Me

A Story by Lizzie A.
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Another story idea.

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It was getting dark.

The streets were all but empty, that magic hush of a summer night weighing heavy in the air.

I made my way to the old school grounds, picking through the overgrown lawn. My mind wandered, bringing me back to the thousands of memories created in this archaic building. Huffing a little, I ascended the stairs to the rooftop, eager to see a view of town from higher ground.

Caught up in my reminiscing, I didn’t notice the shadow hunched over the edge of the ridge.


“Hey.”

I whipped my head around, heart racing with adrenaline, only to make out a familiar shape.

“PLEASE don’t do that again!” I hissed at the shadow, as my best friend made her presence known. Smirking a little, she turned back to the overlooking view.

“Some day that airhead of yours is going to get you into serious trouble. I swear you have the attention span and awareness of a goldfish. ”


Rolling my eyes, I dropped down beside her.
“Aha. Aha. She’s a comedian, someone give this woman a gold star for snark ingenuity.”

Instead of the trademark sarcastic comeback and victorious laugh, she gave a small smile, eyes avoiding mine.

“Yeah well, at least that’s one thing I’ve created a f*****g name for, isn’t it?”

Taken aback, I started to retort when I noticed the quivering in her lower lip and the unshed tears in her eyes.


She didn’t cry. She was a freaking fortress. Something was seriously wrong.

“hey……” I gently took hold of her arm. “What’s going on?”

Large hazel eyes continued to avoid mine as the silence stretched on for a worrisome amount of time.


A cracked whisper broke the night air.

“Sometimes, do you ever wonder what it would be like to just disappear?”

I turned my head sharply, alarmed at the tone of her voice.
“ What are you talking about……… we’ve gone through this before, of course I’ve wondered, everyone wonders at some point, but that’s not why we’re here , and you know that. What’s going through your head? Why haven’t you been telling me this?”

Strained sentences.

She slowly got to her feet, hands in the pockets of her favorite hoodie.

“ I didn’t want to worry you…”    Shuffling feet. “ All the s**t you’ve been dealing with, what with your grandma dying and all…..”


She finally turned to look at me, eyes devoid of emotion.

“ I’ve been thinking a lot you know. About everything. And I’ve had enough. I mean, I know it’s selfish of me, but I’m done with all this. I’m gonna miss you, ok?”


A smooth movement, hands on the edge of the stone wall, a small rush of air.

My mouth opened in a silent scream as my outstretched hand missed her back by centimeters.

I watched my best friend fall, clothes fluttering in the wind, arms splayed wide as if she was merely floating.  Her eyes were wide open, I know she saw me.


I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t save her. 

I saw her hit the pavement. The angle of her pale limbs reflected in the harsh moonlight.

Something gripped my lungs and I doubled over. A few moments passed before I realized I was screaming myself raw.

But I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t feel …….

Anything.

© 2022 Lizzie A.


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• Subpar writer, really just enjoy drabbling.

Why settle for subpar? You’re forgetting something critical:

All your life you’ve been reading. But when you do, do you see and learn to use the tools the pros take for granted? No…no more than does visiting a sculpture garden teaches us to use the tools of the sculptor—or even what those tools are.

When we read, we can’t know where the author took one path, or used one approach rather than another. Will we somehow intuit the three issues we must address quickly on entering any scene, so the reader has full context? In fact, will we even truly know what a scene on the page is, and what are the elements that make it up? Of course not. So…with the best of intentions, if we don’t take the time to learn what a scene is, how can we write one?

It’s not a matter of talent, or how well you write. The problem is, you expect to see the tricks of writing fiction in use when you read. More to the point, your reader expects to see it in your work.

And that is the single most powerful reason I know of for looking into the “tricks of the trade.”

Here’s something else not one in ten hopeful writers think of without it being pointed out: Remember all the time you spent in school on writing assignments? Weren’t over 90% of them for reports and essays? Mine were, so I left my school years pretty good at the kind of writing my employers wanted from me: reports and essays, which are author-centric and fact based, with a goal of informing the reader.

And true to your teaching, look at your presentation:
- - - -
• The streets were all but empty…
• I made my way to the old school grounds,
• Caught up in my reminiscing, I didn’t notice
- - - -
Fact-based and author centric. You’d probably get an A, in English class. But…fiction’s goal is very different. It’s emotion-based and character-centric. We want the reader to feel and react, not be well informed. As E. L. Doctorow put it: “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader. Not the fact that it’s raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” And our teachers spent not one second on how to do that.

Why? Because we were being readied for employment, with a set of general skills, not those of a specific profession, like Poetry or Fiction-Writing. And THAT’s why you feel yourself a mediocre writing. Try as you might, without the necessary tools, you'll see that a given story doesn’t work as you want to to, but not be able to figure out why, because as Mark Twain put it: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Just as we need to look into the techniques of poetry, we need to add to our writing toolbox for any of the various writing sub-specialties.

Here’s another point than damn few ever think of: You, as a reader, will learn what’s said and what happens before the protagonist can notice and react. So, inherently, you'll react first. And if your reaction doesn’t match that of the protagonist, that sets you up for a “wait a minute…” moment. But your enjoyment depends on feeling as if you ARE the protagonist, and actively living the events. That’s why we can’t just tell the reader the sequence of events. That reader’s perceptions must be calibrated to that of the protagonist. That way, every reader will view the action in exactly the same way: as the protagonist—another thing not mentioned in school.

In several of your postings you’ve talked about story ideas. It’s common. When I began recording my campfire stories, like so many others, I had the idea that while my own writing was poor, perhaps I could give my idea to a pro and get at least a “Based on an idea by…” notice on the dedication page.

But then, I learned that the least important part of the writing process is the plot. Think about it. Most people will commit to read a novel in three pages or less. And how much story has passed in the first three pages?

It’s the moment-by-moment writing that keeps the reader turning pages. Basically, all stories are the same: Someone has a predictable life, but something (the inciting incident) changes that, and pushes the protagonist out of their comfort zone. They try to resolve the problem…and fail.

They change strategy and try again…and fail. This continues, with options narrowing and tension increasing, scene-by-scene, till all seems lost, at which time the protagonist uses their infallible secret weapon: dumb-luck, to “snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.” That’s followed by the denouement, where we learn the reward for being steadfast, followed by “the end.” (The article, Batman is my Role Model, expands on that. https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/the-grumpy-writing-coach-6/)

There are variations on that sequence, of course. But that’s the framework that the vast majority of stories adhere to—and what the reader expects.

Give the greatest plot ever conceived to most hopeful writers, and the result will read like a report and be rejected on page one. Give a really lousy plot to a pro, though, and they can make the reader weep with a tale of taking out the garbage. It's a matter of making the action seem to happen in real-time, which is a learned skill.

And here’s the kicker: there’s no reason you can’t learn to do that. In fact, if you like to write fiction, learning the tricks of it is like going backstage at a professional theater for the first time—filled with, “So THAT’S how they do it. But of more importance, once you master those skills the act of writing becomes a LOT more fun, as you literally live the scenes in order to make them real. Then, your protagonist becomes your co-writer.

That can become so intense that once, I couldn't bring myself to stop writing for 32 hours straight, with stops only to visit the bathroom and eat the meals my wonderfully understanding wife put in front of me. I simply had to know how that scene worked out.

So where do you pick up the knowledge our teachers never told us existed? The local library’s fiction-writing section can be a HUGE resource. Personally? I’d suggest Dwight Swain’s, Techniques of the Selling Writer, which recently came out of copyright protection. It's the best I've found, to date, at imparting and clarifying the "nuts-and-bolts" issues of creating a scene that will sing to the reader. The address of an archive site where you can read or download it free is just below. Copy/paste the address into the URL window of any Internet page and hit Return to get there.

https://archive.org/details/TechniquesOfTheSellingWriterCUsersvenkatmGoogleDrive4FilmMakingBsc_ChennaiFilmSchoolPractice_Others

The book won’t make a pro of you, but it will give you the necessary understanding of the process, and the tools. And the Motivation/Response technique within that book will make a major difference in your own prose.

So… You posted a story. I’m certain this wasn’t the kind of thing you were hoping to see, but since we can’t fix the problem we don’t see as being one, I thought you might want to know.

For what it might be worth as an overview, the articles in my Writing blog are based on the kind of things you find in such a book.

But whatever you do, don’t let this discourage you. Hang in there, and keep-on-writing.

Jay Greenstein
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/category/the-craft-of-writing/the-grumpy-old-writing-coach/


Posted 2 Weeks Ago


Lizzie A.

1 Week Ago

Thank you so much for your helpful insight and your time. I look forward to investigating this more!.. read more

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Added on January 8, 2022
Last Updated on January 8, 2022

Author

Lizzie A.
Lizzie A.

CAMBRIDGE, Ontario, Canada



About
Subpar writer, really just enjoy drabbling. Music is my much more developed talent ;) Hoping that whatever I have to share helps someone in a small way. more..

Writing