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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

judge that character #3

A big thank you to Chris who submitted his character, Charlie, for judgement...

The rush of water pelts my back as my right hand clutches the sliding glass door of the shower. My head compresses with the force of a hundred headaches as I squint through a maze of mist and steam. I struggle for control of my suddenly limp body, like steering a car after its brakes have failed. My knees buckle and hit the tile floor. Shampoo soaked water pools around me, so I turn the dial with my last ounce of strength.

I never let money drive a wedge between friends. Music? Maybe. Girls? Definitely. But not money.
“How about this," I say to Sam. "If Skyla is my girlfriend by the end of September, you have to help me fix the lighthouse.”
"Pfft. That place is a dump. No deal."
I knew it. He's still pissed at me for quitting his band.
"Come on, Sam. Your scrawny ass could use a little manual labor.”
"Fuck off, Charlie.” He slams on the gas pedal. The car jerks ahead. “Get one of your meat head jock friends to help you.”

Amber's face hardens. “You heard the rumors."
"No." I shake my head.
“Liar!” She leaps to her feet. "Admit it, Charlie. You think I'm a shameless little slut."
"No, I don't!"
Her slight frame towers over me. "Then why are you rejecting me?"
I stammer, searching for one more excuse. I'm all out.
“Yeah. that’s what I thought.” She grabs her backpack and heads for the exit. “Good luck with your lighthouse.” She scoffs, disappearing down the stairs she helped build. 

Amber waits for me on the lighthouse steps, digging a dirt path with her bright red Chucks. She flips over the door key in her palm. 
“You talked to my dad, didn’t you?” She says to the dirt.
“About what?”
Amber turns to me. “Don’t play dumb with me. He’s being an attentive parent. He even apologized. Kinda."
“Really?" I smile. "What did he say?"
She purses her lips. Her mouth opens, closes, and opens again. "He misses her." Her voice cracks.
I nod. An uneasy silence thickens the air between us. I clutch the railing and pull myself up, wincing as I ascend the stairs.
Amber extends her hand and offers me the key. “You want this back?”
I unlock the door and push it open. “Only if you’re breaking up with me.”

Overall, these are perfectly good paragraphs, but I didn't think any one told me much about Charlie. In the first one he's in pain, the second he's trying to get a friend to help with the lighthouse, the third to find an excuse why he can't date Amber, and the last looks they're making up. Depending upon where these all sit in the story, I'd want to see more of Charlie's actions and reactions to what's happening to him. For example, in the first scene, what is Charlie thinking while he's in this much pain. Is he concerned? Upset? Scared? That's what will tell the reader who Charlie is, make the reader care about Charlie and hopefully, read on. Same thing with the second paragraph. Is he mad that his friend won't help or does he understand why he's refusing? Showing Charlie's reaction to the things that happen to him will give the reader insight into Charlie, make him want to follow Charlie. Third paragraph, he might not want to tell Amber why he's refusing her but his thoughts should tell the reader why and maybe let the reader know he wishes he wasn't - assuming that's true. The last paragraph...hmm, I kind of like it as it is, but Charlie's wincing and pulling himself up the stairs indicates a problem and if it's a physical problem/issue, he probably thinks about it a lot, worries about it. I think what's missing here is either inner dialogue or some sort of reaction from Charlie to show the reader how he's feeling, engage our sympathy. 

Now, what do you guys think of Charlie? What's your impression of him? How could Chris write Charlie better?

1 comment:

Patchi said...

Here is what I got: Charlie is one of those guys that collects friends from different groups but doesn't get too close. He's not letting the friends know much about him, and that includes the reader. It might be because of the chronic pain, which I'm not sure what it is.