Scrivener’s Forge 2 – Character, Desire, and Plot

Time to work on my writing skills

This weeks Exercise:

Think of a character. Then ask yourself: what does this character want?  What is stopping them achieving their desire? What must they do to overcome these obstacles?  Write a brief scene, the climax of the story, in which your character confronts the obstacles.

For more information please drop by the host, Neil MacDonald’s page for all the rules.

My submission this week is taken from a novel I am working on. Any comments, positive or negative will help me grow as a writer. Here it is –

I finally had to nerve to confront my mother about the dreams of storms and drowning that had been plaguing me. I sat stunned by her response.

“It was 1919, times were tough, money and jobs were in short supply. I knew your dad could be moody, but I married your him anyway. Soon after we got married, things got bad. He lost his job. No job meant no money and no food. My family helped us as much as they could. That hurt and angered your father. He was proud and didn’t like having to depend on my parents. Eventually, he got the job at the paper. But the damage was done. He started drinking more and became even moodier. Even when we had Jimmy he didn’t stop drinking. The more he drank, the quicker things set him off. Poor Jimmy bore the brunt of it all.”

I sat in silence knowing I wouldn’t like what was coming. Voice wavering, my mother continued, “At first, he would just yell and bully Jimmy. Then your father started physically pushing him around. He would slap him. And God forgive me, one time, when Jimmy was five, he broke little Jimmy’s arm. I don’t think he meant to but it happened.”

With that, my mother looked like she wanted to crawl into herself and disappear. She started a slow rhythmic rocking.

“It’s okay mom; it’s all in the past. I don’t blame you for anything.”

She looked at me, remorse etched deep into her face. “I guess you think I should have left your dad. I should have just taken Jimmy and left. But I had nowhere to go. If I went back to my parents, they would have just sent me back to your father. That’s just the way it was. I tried to protect you and Jimmy. Then when you were seven and Jimmy was sixteen, Jimmy drowned. Your father swore it wasn’t his fault.” The words hung over us, like a storm the rest of our lunch.

As I drove home, I gave in to the black thoughts circling in my mind. The conversation with my mother had shaken me to my very core. The very roots of my being, my past have changed. I have been in denial about my father and my family life

“Oh Lord, I’m going to be sick.” I thought as I pulled over into a mall parking lot and opened the car door. The fresh air calmed my roiling stomach. I truly don’t have any memories of being physically abused by my father. I have no memories of him hitting my mom or Jimmy. My dreams made sickening sense. His verbal abuse and the pain from his strikes are the storms that now haunt me. My dad was a monster. All my mother’s rationalizations about it being a different time, about him having a hard time don’t change that. My father was a monster.

What does that make me?

Word Count: 496

Thank you taking the time to read this. I hope you enjoyed it. Please let me know. Check out other stories by clicking HERE. And please join us!






2 thoughts on “Scrivener’s Forge 2 – Character, Desire, and Plot

  1. This is heart-wrenchingly powerful, Cindy. Whether it will end up being the climax of your book, only time will tell. But it’s certainly a dramatic turning point. Your character has confronted the obstacles and broken through to something new. Of course, now she has new obstacles to confront, and another hill to climb to discover whether she’s a monster too, and to remake her relationship with her mother. The writing and the terrible revelation held my attention throughout.

    I liked the device of the dreams as the only residue of memory. I really liked the mother rocking. That showed us her distress without you having to tell us. I wish you’d used the same technique of “showing, not telling” when you describe your protagonist’s response: “The conversation with my mother had shaken me to my very core. The very roots of my being, my past have changed. I have been in denial about my father and my family life.” Because you’ve told us here, rather than shown us, it reduces the emotional punch.

    She seems to come very quickly to a realisation of what her dreams mean: “My dreams made sickening sense. His verbal abuse and the pain from his strikes are the storms that now haunt me.” How can she be so sure, if she has no memories of this? Does she, perhaps, conjecture that this may be what the dreams mean, and then begin a quest to find out what really happened?

    I’d also have liked to have seen her ask her mother more. She must feel anger, betrayal, confusion. Her mother can confirm for her whether she was hit, and may be able to confirm whether or not her father killed her brother. Of course that all may happen in a later scene. This may be all she can cope with right now. In which case you need to show her disengaging from the conversation, perhaps using anger as the means to disengage?

    This is a dreadful and powerful story. Great work, Cindy.


    1. Neil, thank you so much for all your comments. You are the first person to have a peek into the novel I am working on and I am so glad you had such a powerful reaction to it. I think you are right about the “show” aspect of the MC response to her mother. I also agree that her acceptance of what the dreams mean came to fast. I like your idea of this being the first hint at the meaning but should be something she needs to work at before fully accepting. You have also given me some good pointers for continuing her journey and confrontation with her mother. Thank you so much.


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