Monday, July 28, 2008

"The Other Side of Glory"-- July 28th, 2008

Understanding there are important "fundamental" concepts that must be applied to every story, in order to help the readers (1.) stay focused long enough to keep reading past the opening pages, (2.) identify traits with the hero of the story so that they come to a determination (quickly) that his/her story is worth following and (3.) establishing the nature of the character for a growth pattern later on as the story develops, I realized I was missing something in the opening Chapter to "The Other Side of Glory."

I opened the story with a pretty powerful (draft) Prologue, introducing the audience to an older gentleman awaiting his death sentence in prison. How and why he got there will be told over the course of the (body of the) story. I think I sparked enough intrigue to keep the reading audience moving towards the first chapter where they are immediately introduced to a young Private First Class in the US Marine Corps by the name of Joey Allario.

I was trying to convey the "nice guy" image early in the story for my character Joey Allario--being this novel will be a play on the concepts of "good" and "evil." The trick however (for me as the writer) will be to draw characters in situations that force my reading audience to decide what/who is good and what/who is evil. Yesterday however I realized I was missing something with relation to Joey's history. I could easily tell the audience great things about him, but that doesn't always work. I have learned its just as important to show the character interacting with people--close to him and people he/she doesn't know--to draw a better image of their quality. So, I went back and added a few more pages to the opening chapter as a sort of flashback scene, where you see the young Marine saying good-bye to his parents. Below is a sample of what I wrote yesterday to build on the idea that PFC Joey Allario is a good kid.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of "The Other Side of Glory"

The terminal doors slammed together symbolizing the passing of one stage of his life into the other. Standing there Joey couldn't help but think about his family back home--his mother and father and especially his younger sister Helen. He reached into his pocket of his pants until his fingers found a small pocket-sized Holy Bible. Joey closed his eyes for a moment and held the Bible firmly in his hand as though he were holding each of them close to him and within the echoes of the very quiet airport terminal he could see their faces again--as clearly as he did just hours before.

"Sit with me," his father said. "Aqui." Here.

Joey was only hours away from leaving his home in Midland, Texas and all he had known to be normal and good. His mother was preparing breakfast--tortillas, eggs and chorizo--and his younger sister Helen was busy laying out his uniform on his bed.

"Look at my hands," his father said. "See them?"

"Yes dad," Joey said.

"They are the hands of a worker--someone who has earned his money by the sweat of his brow," his father told him referencing the family bible on a nearby table.

"I know dad, there isn't anything wrong with working hard for a living," Joey said. "You gave us a home. That's more than most people can say for themselves father."

"I understand this," his father said. "But one day you will be a father and have children of your own and of all you can give them and all you will give them--the option of having a better life than the one you lived will mean the most to you."

Joey looked around his home, at the furniture and its worn upholstery, the cracked flooring and the simple layout and then he realized something. His mother and father were right about one thing; the home they provided was good enough for them, but he was slowly outgrowing them. He was beginning to outgrow the life they offered and would require more of himself and the things he worked to provide for his life. He would do better than they did, not because he is better but because they raised him to appreciate everything he had, to work hard for what he wanted and to remember where he came from.

Joey ate his breakfast with his family at the table and together they hardly spoke to one another. Each of them in turn were busy picking up or setting plates or serving food as if they were trying to occuply their minds and slow down time. But the inevitable had come. It was time to leave home again.

Joey hugged his mother and took the money she offered into his hand. She always had a way of giving so much of herself in the money she could spare. He kissed her and said good-bye to his sister Helen. She was teary-eyed knowing the brother who stood up for her, believed in her and set the standard for what a strong young man should be--was now breaking away from the nest to find his own way in the world.

"It's a right-of-passage," his sister said. "Now do you rbest and come back home with a treasure of sacrifices and stories to tell."

The last to say good-bye was his father. Just before seeing him off outside Midland International Airport, he took his son in his arms and said only these words: "Don't forget my hands son and the years they labored to get you were you are today. I love you."

...More to come later...
Stay tuned as I document the mental process for creating my second novel: "The Other Side of Glory."

~Bobby Ozuna
"Drawing Stories...With Words"

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