Four weeks had passed since the last time Justin Pennington uttered a word.
Not that he didn't have plenty to say. But he had his reasons.
On the Saturday before camp, Justin ran scales at the piano, staring intently at the keys. After a while, as always, his eyes shifted to his dad's picture atop the polished lid. Abruptly, he shoved the piano bench backwards, nearly falling over in the process. Despite the bright Milwaukee sun outside, his glum expression deepened into melancholy.
He headed to the bay window and hurled his stocky frame onto its cushion. Heaving a shaky sigh, he stared out the window while pulling the curtains close around him.
On the lawn, a baseball glove lay exactly where he left it after his twelfth birthday last Sunday. His solitary reflection highlighting a head of unruly fair hair reminded him of a 5 o'clock date with the barber. He tugged at a handful, attempting to ignore the leaden weight in his stomach. As he calculated the prospect of Camp Inch being any better than home, he figured, It can't be worse.
Justin bolted upright when his mom pulled into the driveway. The sedan's silver finish, dull with dust when she left a few hours ago, glinted off its shiny hood.
Why couldn't she leave it the way it was? He backed away from the window, ignoring her wave. Swallowing hard, he realized the dirt covering the car doubled as the last evidence he had. Now it was gone too, just like his dad.
One minor note to think about: sometimes writers use 10 words to say something that would work better in 6 words. Take your first sentence for instance. "Four weeks had passed since the last time Justin Pennington uttered a word." You're actually burying your lead a bit. The not uttering a word in four weeks is what makes this interesting, but by separating four weeks from uttered a word with all those words in the middle, it doesn't have quite the impact that it could. Why not something like:
Justin Pennington hadn't uttered a single word in four weeks.
This is a more active sentence and introduces the character right off the bat. It's less words. It keeps the time and the action together for more impact, and I added "single" in front of word for affect. (you can always get rid of that if you don't like it).
Post by lauracwhitney on Feb 2, 2017 9:12:51 GMT -5
The ending of this excerpt hit me pretty hard, I had a lump in my throat. I love the way that you work up to confirming that Justin's dad was gone, but there was subtle hinting throughout. I really liked this line: "On the lawn, a baseball glove lay exactly where he left it after his twelfth birthday last Sunday." It really hit close to home for me. Nice work!
I agree with everything everyone has said. But, I can't help but think if the glove is still on the lawn, the grass is probably starting to hide it. Where I live, it'd need mowed after a week for sure. But I get, the grass isn't the focus, but you could use it if you want to express how things aren't getting done, because I bet his dad was the one that used to mow the lawn.
The sadness is clear with your writing. And I'm curious to know what happened to his dad and how Justin is going to deal with the situation.
Post by Ninja Shadow on Feb 2, 2017 11:07:21 GMT -5
Great writing. I would like a tiny inkling of what is going on for Justin. You've described really well, with a great, spare style. You are describing what he looks like quite a lot, which does feel a little too authorial. These visual details can be woven in later. These opening lines are too precious to waste on unnecessary details right now. Loved the power in the writing though!
I like your writing style and the opening line grabbed me. I still feel like I don't know what's going on with him and I'd like more of a hint of that. I also was a bit confused about the time frame. He hadn't spoken for four weeks and then you mention the Saturday before camp. I'm wondering if this is the present or if he's reflecting back. You might want to make that more clear. But you have some interesting things here--and I'm really curious about that his character and what happened!