Monday, November 19, 2012

1st 5 Pages November Workshop - Giuffrida Rev 2

Name: Amy Giuffrida
Genre: YA, Gothic/Horror
Title: The Bleeding Heart

Chapter 1

“Stupid son of a bitch! God! What were you thinking? Have you just totally lost your ever lovin’ mind? You didn’t think they’d come after you?”

“Calm down Brooklyn. Everything will be okay.”

Really? I don’t say anything more because we’ve already been through this more times than I can count. Here I am at midnight tossing all of my belongings into our rusted 90’s station wagon all because my father needs to get away. Yet again he owes some low-life hustler a ton of cash that he can’t give him. Totally not anything new in this family, but I am so sick to death of running. Every time it happens I have to start over and it just keeps getting harder to do.

The really funny thing about our situation is that the guy we’re running from, Carlo, well he’s fat so really we don’t need to run. He won’t catch us. I know that using the word fat is taboo, but when have you ever heard someone calling a drug lord morbidly obese? Not gonna happen, the dude is fat! Carlo obviously isn’t feared for his stealth-like moves, because let’s face it, a guy weighing 400 plus pounds can barely walk. No. It’s the crazy orders of violence he gives his soldiers to carry out. With just the nod of his big head people are maimed and even killed. Rumor has it that with one head shake, a man owing Carlo just five dollars could lose a finger or two. No way does dad want to stick around to see what Carlo has in mind for him; for us. I don’t have any idea how much money he owes Carlo or what he did to attract this type of attention, but I’m not really caring right now. I just know that we have to get out of here. Now.

With the car window down, the air hits my face and I’ m wide awake. It’s four in the morning and I am utterly exhausted, but yet here I am with my eyes wide open. I’m not so much thinking about tonight’s events, but what lay ahead of me. What town we’ll end up in next. After a couple hours on the road already, I don’t see any sign that dad is ready to stop. We have lived in quite a few towns near-by, so I guess we’re moving further away this time. Away from everything I’ve known for the past year. I can’t even guess at what will happen next. Will we stay for a few weeks in a motel? Find an apartment to rent? Somehow run into an old friend of dad’s who’ll let us stay rent-free for a while? Who knows.

Does it even matter where we end up? Not really. Most girls my age would just collapse after such trauma but you see, I am not your average ordinary girl. I don’t look like any of those sweet perky twelve year-olds. I’m--different. I like black. Black everything. I don’t want people to really notice me, so black fits. Although I love wearing black clothes, I do not dye my hair black and wear heavy black eyeliner. That’s just trashy and not my style, plus it would call too much attention to myself.

I tend to hide in plain sight. I hide behind my clothes and my plain, strait brown hair. No one really knows who I am, not even dear old dad. If he really knew what was inside of me, he’d consider turning me over to the state. Maybe have me committed so that no harm came to me or someone else. He’d wonder how Brooklyn Rose, his beautiful baby girl, could have hidden her thorns for so long. Never allowed them to take a chunk out of someone. Never make someone bleed. Dad doesn’t need to really know me; what I think about. What I crave. It will be my secret. The one I don’t let anyone see.

“You alright over there Brooklyn?”

“Yeah dad. Tell me, what did you do this time?”

“Don’t worry about it. This is all just one big misunderstanding. Carlo will get over it and we’ll be able to go back home soon.”

“That’s what you said last time about Ramone. We never went back dad.”

“That was different.”

I could recite this conversation in my head. We’ve had the same one more times than I could count, but I just don’t have the heart to really find out why we had to slip away in the middle of the night. I guess I don’t really care enough any more, plus I’m just too damn tired.


Every night as I try to find some peace in my dreams I remember that next night. The night we had little warning that they were coming for us. Dad came into my bedroom in a panic. He shook me awake and shouted at me to get up. I knew they had found us. As I swung my legs to the floor, dad was zipping up our open suitcases. I was pulling up my jeans when the men broke in. They came for dad but also found me, his innocent twelve year-old daughter. An added bonus for the four guys that kicked in the motel room door.

There was so much yelling that I couldn’t distinguish much that was said, but I did hear something about dad owing someone money and he’d be sure to pay. Three of the men took dad outside, while one stayed with me in the room. I’ll never forget the feeling of his fists in my hair as he yanked me around the room. I was hit, kicked, punched. I don’t really remember any of this though. The nurses at the hospital told me about the injuries once I became conscious.

What I do remember is when the knife sliced my skin. The man looked me right in the eyes as he told me how he was going to cut open my throat and watch me bleed. I remember the look of lust and need in his eyes. This man enjoyed hurting me, in fact I don’t think he would have physically been able to leave without causing blood to spill.

Very methodically he made a small slice on my arm; seemed just to want to see how deep his blade would cut with just a small amount of pressure. Once satisfied with the cut, he kissed my forehead and slowly made a slice across my throat. That’s when I lost myself. Right there. I was no longer me. That is how I became a monster.

Chapter 2

I sit and watch the blood run down his arm. It isn’t my job to wipe it away, not yet anyway. Today I just get to watch Jonathan use his rag to remove the ink-stained liquid. I am a witness to all of this and can’t participate in making him bleed. The fact that I am not the one causing the pain is truly killing me. I want my hands on him. I want to be the one holding the needle etching into his skin, spilling pain and blood. It will be my turn soon, but not until I turn 18. Damn laws.

For now all I can do is dream of the blood I will spill. The pain I will cause.


  1. There's a lot of energy in this opening but I feel like rather than answer the previous questions, it may have created more questions and challenges. Basically, the new opening is sort of a prologue and you end up needing two compelling openings rather than just one. And in this case you also need a voice for Brooklyn that is consistent yet seems years younger.

    I wonder if it might be more straightforward to pick an event on the day Brooklyn turns 18 (when everything she's been waiting for can finally happen?) and open there.

    Your new scene might be a flashback later on. A few things that struck me as inconsistent in the new scene:
    -- Midnight or 4am?
    -- is she annoyed about having to run ("Totally not anything new... so sick to death) or afraid (I just know we have to get out of here. Now.) ?
    -- is Carlo not a threat (we don't need to run. He won't catch us) or a threat (one head shake... could lose a finger or two).

    Final note: Don't tell us about Brooklyn being different. Just show who she is. Let the reader decide if she is different.

    Thanks for sharing! I love dark stories.

  2. I love the concept, but I think the execution still needs work. I agree that you don't need that whole opening with her backstory, instead focus on the moment the story starts, which seems to be this day in the tattoo parlor. Simply by saying "he fact that I am not the one causing the pain is truly killing me. I want my hands on him. I want to be the one holding the needle etching into his skin, spilling pain and blood. It will be my turn soon, but not until I turn 18. Damn laws.

    For now all I can do is dream of the blood I will spill. The pain I will cause." you've explained what the issue is for her. Focus on trying not to explain too much for the reader, trust us instead. By saying things like I hide behind my hair, etc, that's too much. Just show us by having her toss her hair over the left side of her face in an uncomfortable conversation for example.

    It sounds like a complex plot, so just take your time. You don't have to rush it all out, just make each reveal clear and intriguing like you did with that paragraph I quoted above. Great work!

  3. Hi Amy,

    Wow! You've got one heck of a story here! This is a completely new opening and it's got some really good detail. I think I like your original opening better, though. Can you use some of this backstory in a couple of flashback scences? It's the past, and the Tattoo Parlor is the present, right? If so, I'd start there.

    Readers will want to know why she's with Jonathan, but I agree with Lisa - don't rush it.

    Keep writing and good luck!

  4. Hi Amy!

    Thanks for your time and feedback throughout this workshop!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Wow! What a change! I feel like this scene really opened my eyes to Brooklyn's strange obsession (not sure if that's quite the right word for it) but I do also agree that this could be worked in as a flashback later but honestly I don't have a problem with it in the beginning. I suppose it's more of what you want. Also, I think that the first scenes had a very 12 year old voice compared to the rest of what I've read which feels older - so that's amazing that you pulled that off so perfectly!

    Good luck with all future writing!


  6. Hi Dana,

    Sorry this is so delayed. I definitely "get" Brooklyn now, but I agree with the others that this is backstory and doesn't lead us into her current problem. YOU need to know it, because it made her who she is, and at points in the present story, slivers of this experience will help the reader understand why she does specific things that might otherwise not connect with us.

    I wonder if you were to use something from that first scene, from the man who hurt her, to turn the scene in the tattoo parlor on. Is there something about the man her uncle is working on that makes her think of the man who hurt her? His eyes? His hair? The shape of his ears? The tattoo he's asked for? Does it make her automatically finger the knife smile on her neck, the one she hides behind black clothes and high collars, the one that makes her a monster inside and out? Help us connect that past with this present, give us enough to intrigue us, and then trust that you have our interest. What I still don't have is any sense of where the present story is going and how fast it is going to get there. We need to know the story question in these first five pages. You've definitely given us her wound, now what exactly is the problem that is going to challenge what she wants and who she is and force her to change? What is she risking?

    Good luck with this! I really think you have something here. She's an intriguing character.