POV Changes

Scene 2

I was getting ready for school when the phone rang. I answered it and it was my best friend, Rellie. She sounded tired.

            “Listen, Kris,” she said softly, “I don’t feel so well. I think I’ll skip school today and stay home. Could you please find out my homework for me and bring it over after school?”

            I told her of course, then hung up.

            I was worried about her. Lately, her attention span was like a little kid’s, and she had begun to get dark bags under her eyes. Sometimes her thoughts would become distant and her face would be blank. Sometime’s she’d nervously play with her necklace while her face got that far-away look on it, which she got much too often lately. Or she’d have this strange habit of looking back over her shoulder, as if she’d find someone lurking behind her.

            And today she wasn’t going to school.

            Ever since Rellie’s parents died in an auto-wreck four months ago, Rellie started to change. I cold understand that, but what I couldn’t understand is that I hadn’t seen her cry once. In fact, she seemed to be oblivious to the fact they were dead. Sometimes she’d call her grandmother (who now lived with her) Mom, and her older brother Dad.

            At any rate, I did not understand what was going on, and our friendship was starting to fall apart. I’m not saying we’re not really close friends anymore, it’s just that we’re growing apart. Or, at least, she seems to be. She never calls anymore, in fact, the call she gave me today shocked me, even if it was to ask a favor. Every time I called her, she refused to talk to me, or else she’d just let me talk to her, and not respond. But, as it takes two to hold a conversation, I stopped calling.

            Like I said, our friendship was dwindling. Hanging from a thread, if you care to get dramatic.

            But I don’t.

            It was a small wonder that no one was surprised she didn’t come to school. She seemed separated from everyone else. She used to be real popular. Friends would copy her image, she’d always have guys surrounding her, and now…she’s forgotten.

            I saw Tina and ran up to her after English class. “Tina!” I squealed, “I love that cashmere sweater!”

            She smiled, “Thanks, Kris! Pop bought it for me, for my birthday.”

            Then Lauri and Kelly came up and we chatted until we were late for our next class.

            I tried to slip into Spanish unnoticed, but Mr. Daniles caught me. “Um…” he tapped his finger to his watch. “Running a little late, aren’t we?” he didn’t say it as a question, he said it matter-of-factly.

            “We are?” I quipped back, staring at the class, “Good, then I didn’t miss anything!”

            The class chuckled as I slid into my seat next to the empty one Rellie used to sit in.

            It almost sounds as if she’s dead, doesn’t it?

The Revision of Scene 2:

First off, there is definitely merit to this story. We have a character concerned about her friend and the hint that her friend is depressed. After all, the girl’s parents have been killed!  But I have two concerns. The first is that we are jumping into a new character’s POV (remember, in the last scene we were with Rellie. Now we are with Kris.) I’m not sure why I had Rellie’s scene in third person and Kris’s in first, but that may be confusing to the reader, so I’d stick with one type of POV throughout the story, either first or third. Changing character perspective is all right, as long as there is a point to it, and I can’t help wondering what is the point? Not sure we need Kris’s POV.

The second concern is the way this is set up. A telephone call with a big dose of backstory. Two huge no-no’s that might be pulled off by a strong writer. But probably not in this story. So I’m going for a massive rewrite here.

I was getting ready for school when the phone rang. I answered it and it was my best friend, Rellie. She sounded tired. This is a terrible couple of sentences. All telling, no showing. Details would help. A problem Kris is having might be a nice subplot. It would definitely add interest to the character’s perspective.

            “Listen, Kris,” she said softly, “I don’t feel so well. I think I’ll skip school today and stay home. Could you please find out my homework for me and bring it over after school?”

            I told her of course, then hung up. (Yawn.) Wake me when it’s over…

            I was worried about her. Lately, her attention span was like a little kid’s, and she had begun to get dark bags under her eyes. Sometimes her thoughts would become distant and her face would be blank. Sometime’s she’d nervously play with her necklace while her face got that far-away look on it, which she got much too often lately. Or she’d have this strange habit of looking back over her shoulder, as if she’d find someone lurking behind her. A little better…but this would be SO much stronger if I had it happening in real time.

            And today she wasn’t going to school.

            Ever since Rellie’s parents died in an auto-wreck four months ago, Rellie started to change. I cold understand that, but what I couldn’t understand is that I hadn’t seen her cry once. In fact, she seemed to be oblivious to the fact they were dead. Sometimes she’d call her grandmother (who now lived with her) Mom, and her older brother Dad. Backstory. Ugh. This can all be brought up in conversation between the girls, maybe. Or told from Rellie’s POV if necessary.

            At any rate, I did not understand what was going on, and our friendship was starting to fall apart. I’m not saying we’re not really close friends anymore, it’s just that we’re growing apart. Or, at least, she seems to be. She never calls anymore, in fact, the call she gave me today shocked me, even if it was to ask a favor. Every time I called her, she refused to talk to me, or else she’d just let me talk to her, and not respond. But, as it takes two to hold a conversation, I stopped calling.

            Like I said, our friendship was dwindling. Hanging from a thread, if you care to get dramatic.

            But I don’t.

            It was a small wonder that no one was surprised she didn’t come to school. She seemed separated from everyone else. She used to be real popular. Friends would copy her image, she’d always have guys surrounding her, and now…she’s forgotten. These last few paragraphs are mostly “telling,” which isn’t a problem in some cases. After all, sometimes we need to know what has happened in the past, and a couple of quick, short sentences can sum it all up. But I think in this case we need more. Maybe a scene where we see their friendship in action and how Kris cares about Rellie, but doesn’t have the abilityor maturity to know how to handle Rellie’s problems.

            I saw Tina and ran up to her after English class. “Tina!” I squealed, “I love that cashmere sweater!” This sounds dumb and a little desperate.

            She smiled, “Thanks, Kris! Pop bought it for me, for my birthday.”

            Then Lauri and Kelly came up and we chatted until we were late for our next class. More yawning here. Plus, what does this serve to keep the story going? Every sentence MUST have a purpose, or else you should chuck it. Like I’m going to do with this have-no-use-for sentence.

            I tried to slip into Spanish unnoticed, but Mr. Daniles caught me. “Um…” he tapped his finger to his watch. “Running a little late, aren’t we?” he didn’t say it as a question, he said it matter-of-factly.

            “We are?” I quipped back, staring at the class, “Good, then I didn’t miss anything!” This is funny. I think I’ll keep it. Plus, it says something about my character.

            The class chuckled as I slid into my seat next to the empty one Rellie used to sit in.

            It almost sounds as if she’s dead, doesn’t it? Not a bad ending to the scene. It tells us that Kris is starting to think of Rellie as no longer existing, which is very telling about their relationship.

So here is my dilemma. Keep this in Kris’s POV, or use Rellie’s POV. I’m going to sneak over to my story and see if Kris or Rellie show up again…hm…looks like I’m using all sorts of POVs throughout. So I am going to play with this piece a little. I’m going to keep Rellie’s scene in first person, but put everyone else’s in third. Third is challenging for me. It places a little distance between the reader and the narrator. But the great thing out revision is that we can play around with our work and change it whenever we feel we aren’t doing the story justice. SOOOO…let’s see what the 15-year-old in me was trying to convey with this scene so we can keep the integrity of the piece:

1)   Kris and Rellie are best friends.

2)   Rellie’s parents were recently killed in a car accident

3)   Rellie has been pulling away from all her friends

4)   Rellie is a popular, well-liked student.

5)   Kris is pretending she doesn’t care that Rellie is pulling away from her.

With those points in mind, here is what I’d do to revise this:

Kris rang Rellie’s doorbell and shifted her backpack from her shoulder where it was cutting off the circulation to her arm. These damned books weighed a ton. Why couldn’t the school purchase paperbacks? Probably save them a bunch of money, too. If there was one thing Kris’s parents complained about, it was school taxes and how the district spent their hard-earned bucks.

“Hello?” Kris muttered. “Anyone home?” She rang the doorbell again.

Mrs. Kelly appeared from around the side of the house. She had on gardening gloves, held a trowel in one hand. Fuzzy gray hair stuck out from under a straw hat. She looked like one of those people featured on the cover of Trellis and Ivy Magazine. “Can I help you, dear?”

Mrs. Kelly always called everyone dear. As if she couldn’t remember anyone’s names.

“Is Rellie home?”

“Um-hm.” She pointed the trowel toward the upstairs window. “In her room. Front door’s unlocked, go on up. I’m sure she’ll be pleased to see you.”

            Yeah, right. I’ll bet, Kris thought. Rellie hadn’t shown up for school in weeks. Hadn’t even returned Kris’s calls, and she was her BFF. Either Rellie didn’t want to talk to anyone, or she really was sick. Too sick to pick up the phone.

Kris opened the door feeling like a burglar sneaking into a house. It smelled musty. And a little like mothballs. Old people’s houses always had an old person odor to them. Like it was some kind of preservative or something.

The yanked her backpack back over her shoulder and took the steps two at a time. When she came to the landing, she noticed the only door that was shut was the one to Rellie’s room.

Why am I so nervous? Kris rubbed her hands down the front of her jeans. I feel like I’m on a first date. She giggled, another indication of jitters. She made three smart raps against the door and waited.

Nothing.

“Rellie? Hey, it’s me. Can I come in?”

Again, nothing.

Maybe Rellie had gone to sleep. Or was too sick to talk. Or…or…what if…

Kris squeezed her eyes shut. She didn’t want to think the worst. No. She had to open the door and check on Rellie. Make sure she was all right.

Please let her be okay…

She turned the knob and the door opened with a tiny squeal.

Rellie was sitting at the computer playing a game of Solitaire.

Kris let out a long, shaky breath. Rellie was okay.

“Hey, didn’t you hear me knocking?” she asked.

Rellie remained silent, placing a red Queen of Hearts down over a black Jack of spades.

“Rellie?”

This was seriously weird. If anyone liked to talk, it was Rellie.

Kris dropped her bookbag on the bed and rummaged through it. She pulled out a folder. “I brought you the homework you missed. The teachers were real nice about it. Maybe you knew your grandma asked me to bring it to you? Though she called me ‘dear,’ so she doesn’t really seem to know who I am.”

Rellie clicked on her mouse.

“Tina’s been horribly obnoxious. But you know her, right? Everything she says is the gospel. And Mark’s been asking about you. He wants to know if you’re still going to the December dance together. I told him probably. You are still going with him, right?”

Rellie dropped a red Ace onto a blank rectangle.

Kris grit her teeth. There was nothing worse than being ignored, except maybe being ignored by your best friend. Time for a little confrontation. “Listen, Rellie, I know things are rough for you. If my parents died in a car accident, I’d act all weird, too. No one expects their parents to die, right? Laura’s Mom had cancer, so Laura had time to say good-bye, but you didn’t get that chance. Maybe you feel guilty. Or angry. Or…I don’t know. But you can’t go pretending I don’t exist. You’re supposed to talk to me about how you feel. You’re—.”

“Get out,” Rellie said so low Kris almost didn’t catch it.

“Tell me how hard it’s been for you. I’ll understand.”

Rellie whirled around in her seat. “Get out,” she repeated.

At least now Rellie was talking. That had to be a good sign. Kris straightened her shoulders. “If you could just—.”

Rellie stood, her face so white she looked like she was made of paper. “Get the hell out of here, now!” She glanced around. Grabbed something off the desk.

“I can help…”

Kris’s best friend—the girl who had stood by her through thick and thin, even when Kris was told she needed glasses, when she swallowed a loose tooth, twisted her ankle at gymnastics—that same person threw whatever it was in her hand at her, landing a blow to the head that hurt like hell. Kris touched her scalp, felt a lump form. She looked down on the floor at a unicorn paperweight.

“Get out!” Rellie screamed.

Kris gathered up her backpack and bolted from the room. The door slammed behind her. She leapt down the stairs and out the front door. Mrs. Kelly was nowhere to be seen, and for that Kris was grateful. She placed her hand on her head, where the paperweight had hit, and through the stinging pain touched wetness. She pulled her hand away and stared at the blood on her fingers.

That’s it, Kris thought, feeling hot tears well up in her eyes. You don’t need me? Well, I don’t need you either.

As far as she was concerned, Rellie didn’t exist. She was as good as dead to her.

#howtorevise #storyrevision #YA #youngadult

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Princess Revision: Chapter One, Scene Four

SEPTEMBER 6, 1966 I was standing in the rain in front of his car as he was fixing the flat. I noticed his high cheekbones, and watched the way his lips moved as he talked. I thought getting a flat in

Princess Revision: Chapter One – Scene Three

Susan applied her last bit of makeup just as the doorbell rang from downstairs. “Oh, God…it’s Bobby. How do I look?” She turned around in a circle, “You know, I look good, and he’s going to go nuts…no

Princess Revision: Chapter One – Scene Two

I had met Jake two years before. He was a junior in college, and worked at this fancy restaurant as a bartended. He told me that it was love at first sight. The light was dim, and I was being escorted