Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rewrite that Scene!

At the Catholic Writers' Conference Live, I only attended one workshop:  Michelle Buckman's.  She's an excellent teacher, and for this workshop, she had us analyzing and rewriting bad openings.  Here's the first one.  (Not the exact words, but close.)

The man stood in the doorway of the hospital room and looked at his wife lying in the bed.  He was upset.  They had had an argument.  Now, he couldn't apologize, and she was dying.

We discussed ways to show rather than tell where he was, how he felt, that they were married and had an argument.  I have to admit, my ideas were a little lame at the time, but the scene stuck in my head, and when I got home, a flash piece had developed.  This is in the Avenir Eclectia shared world, which you can find here.  Great stories in a fantastic, growing SF universe.

Dorran froze at the threshold to the hospital room, his feet refusing to obey his mind’s command to propel him past the sterilization field and to Bonina’s side.  Instead, he hovered, his fists clenched, his eyes roving her body, taking in the tubes and needles, straining to see some sign of motion.  In all the years they’d known each other, she’d never stopped moving.  Even asleep, she had shifted and kicked at the heavy hides on their bed.  Here, they’d cocooned her in sterile white sheets, and the only motion he saw was the rise and fall of her chest in time with the ventilator. 
Her parents had insisted on rushing her to the station, a land of metal and glass, machines and white.  So much white.  Sterile. Cold.  They’d tied her to machines that breathed for her, cleaned her blood, kept her fed, even cleansed her of the layer of dirt that inevitably worked into the skin of anyone who lived on Eclectia.  They’d preserved her life--but had anyone held her hand?

Why couldn’t he?
He held his hand before him, stained and grimed from a lifetime of mining.  He remembered the first time she’d cradled his hand between both of hers, pale and beautiful and fluttering.  Always in motion.  Now, she needed him to move, and he couldn’t.  Coward.
“Please.  I’m sorry.  I take it all back—every harsh word.  Just, please.  Move for me.”

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