I started my first writing class this week. We are working on scenes. Very interesting so far, and the best part is that I can use everything I learn immediately in my own personal writing. Our textbook is:
It is succinct and useful. The first few chapters deal with setting up a scene, finding the beat, and focusing on the hot spot, or turning point. I like the idea of finding the beat. That’s like matching your actions to the rhythm of the story. The author of our text, Scofield, gives great examples.
So, I thought I would post my first writing assignment here. The assignment was simply to brainstorm different occasions that could give reasons for a scene, and then pick one to write a short story on. My occasions were:
1. At a red light, a woman pulls her vehicle behind another car being driven by a man, and then slams into him.
2. A man joins a group of troubled kids at a campfire.
3. A couple starts arguing over a song on the radio.
4. A woman leaving a room accidentally slams the door too hard and another woman from inside the room jumps up and starts screaming at her.
5. A woman walks into an auto parts store, looks around and runs to the counter and screams, “Please help me.”
After much thought, I chose the first one. The assignment was 1000-1200 words, which is so hard for me!! However, I’m happy with the results. Enjoy!
Truth and Consequences
I pulled my car up behind him at the red light. Did he know I had followed him for over a mile? We had wound through palm tree lined street, under the blinding sun. His little sports car was stopped directly in front of me, and I had to stop him. Brandon had killed my sister and thought he got away with it. No. I had to make sure that didn’t happen.
I slammed my foot on the gas pedal. Knuckles white on the steering wheel, I braced myself for the impact. The crash echoed down in my chest. Electricity danced under my skin and into my heart making it pound heavily. I swallowed and opened the car door. He was moving in the car ahead of me. He could kill me too. I had to do this right.
Leaning over, I reached beneath the passenger side seat and slid my fingers over the little gun. I didn’t know about guns; it was my sister’s. I only knew that if you pointed it at something and pulled the trigger, you’d get a reaction. Maybe it would be enough to scare him into giving me the upper hand. I needed to get the upper hand, or I would lose everything.
I stepped out of the car; gun in hand, confidence riding me like lightning. I pointed the silver gun at his rear tire and eased my finger over the trigger. I felt the explosion up my arm and into my shoulder. I saw the tire explode with a bang and a whoosh. I looked up and saw him. Brandon, in his pressed, sleek black suit, stared back at me with a strange look in his eye. Did his brown eyes show fear? Panic? What?
“Are you crazy?” he yelled.
“Maybe, but you’re a murderer.” I spit back at him.
“I didn’t kill her, damn it, I loved her. Why can’t you accept that?”
“Liar,” I screamed. How could he love her? His heart was nothing but an empty black box. He was all polish and fake charm, and his arrogance loved only himself. “You didn’t. You killed her.” I pointed the gun at his chest.
“Stop, just stop, Anne, I know you aren’t going to shoot me.”
They always say that don’t they? Well, he obviously needed to know I would. I lowered the gun, pointing at his leg, below the knee, and squeezed. I thought I knew what to expect this time, but the blood spurting out of his leg stunned me. I reached out and grabbed the edge of my car when my knees started to buckle. Brandon screamed.
His screams woke up something inside me, something happy to hear that screaming. Ah, the upper hand at last. “You bastard, you aren’t going to get away with this.” My legs stopped shaking and I took a few steps toward him. Brandon lay on the ground grabbing his wounded leg. He looked up at me and his eyes were like a wounded dog.
I cocked my head to the side to hear him whisper, “Oh God, just leave me alone. Leave me alone.” He closed his eyes tight, making odd little wrinkles across his face.
I heard sirens in the distance, shrill and warning of danger through the bright clear day. Someone had called emergency services, maybe the police. That could only mean time was limited. I swallowed hard and kneeled down beside Brandon, waving the gun around like a magic wand. “I can shoot you. Only your leg this time, but I’ll blow your fucking brains out if you don’t tell me the truth.”
“What truth? What do you want to hear?” His words were barely a whisper.
“Tell me why you killed her.”
“Accident, my ass. You killed her. Now tell me.” I touched his forehead with the barrel of the gun.
His eyes flew open and he grabbed my wrist, yanking it upward. I fell across his body, pointing the gun over his head. “Get off me. Let go.”
I wasn’t prepared to do either. “No, Brandon.” I slammed my knee into his groin and he groaned, but didn’t let go of my wrist. “Let go.”
“Leave me alone, Anne.” His voice was low and gravelly like the pavement we were stretched out on.
The sirens grew louder making me want to look around and see if any police cars had made it on scene yet, but couldn’t. Brandon could not win this time. I pulled at my arm to get it free, bracing myself against his chest with my other arm for support. “Damn,” I grunted when he pulled my arm higher. It felt like he was going to rip my arm off or at least pull it out of the socket.
“Drop the weapon,” a dark voice behind me commanded.
It was over, I was out of time.
“And stand up slowly.”
I had no choice. It was the police. I didn’t care about jail time or even death if they shot me, but I knew something was going to happen, and I could just not let go, could not let Brandon escape. I leaned in and bit him. I sunk my teeth into the inside of his shoulder as hard as I could. He let go of my wrist and I pulled my arm free. I pulled my body up so I was straddling his waist and pointed the gun in a two handed grip right at his face. “Tell me. Tell me now.”
“Ma’am, drop the weapon now.” The policeman said again in his voice of command, but I heard a bit of panic underneath. He was afraid of what I might do. Brandon stared up at me with wide eyes, full of wonder. He was also afraid of what I might do. I swallowed my own panic because underneath that layer of confidence, I was afraid of what I might do.
“Not until he tells the truth,” I said between clenched teeth.
“Whatever I say now won’t matter.” Brandon tried to shake his head. I wouldn’t let him use reason.
“I don’t care. I need to hear the truth.”
“Anne,” he whispered. “I loved her. I loved her.” A tear slowly leaked out of the corner of his eye. Was it the truth? I couldn’t accept that.
“I don’t believe you love anyone but yourself.” I was vaguely aware of the voices behind us, but I couldn’t let them distract me. No, not when I was so close. “Just admit it. You killed her.”
“Why does this matter?”
“I need to know. I need to hear you confess.”
“I won’t tell anything else. I answered. I loved her. So, just shoot or get off me.”
“Ok, you loved her, but you still killed her. I didn’t ask if you loved her. You killed her.”
A shrill screaming pierced the humidity of the day, loud and animalistic. I realized they were my own. My throat raw with screaming and I had dropped the gun. Hands were on me pulling me away. “No,” I screamed. “He killed her.”
I watched paramedics swarm over Brandon’s fallen body. Police officers wrenched my arms behind my back and yanked me away from the scene. I would never know.