Monday, April 8, 2013

1st 5 Pages April Workshop - Westbrook

Pasha Westbrook
Young Adult Contemporary w/ paranormal elements

friday, october 31st
i’ve seen demons. i know what they can do. i’ve been possessed by them. i have been their possession. they cast u in an invisible spell. they blind the eyes of people around u so people don’t see them in the same unfiltered light as u. but u know their light well; their aged, over ripe, cheesecloth light filled with ancient screams. the minute it touches u, it shrouds u 4ever.

ouch. i just poked myself.

Mother attached a butterfly bookmark to this journal with a safety pin. it’s her way of saying she speaks my language - that she’s on my level (i wear safety pins in everything) - but i have a secret for u Mother dear. you’ll never speak my language. and i’ll never speak yours.

god. this blood’s getting everywhere.

i come to life when her blood spills. i move in red and breath. she doesn’t see me and she doesn’t know that i see. i have seen since we first found each other. she was four. that was twelve years ago. i’ve been around a lot longer. i don’t know how long. i only remember the smell of smoke and turpentine, the taste of oiled cinnamon, the feel of hard straw and needle pinch as it sewed on each stitch of mouth and coarse yarn hair. i didn’t have to see to know it flamed red. it was a long and painful process. creation always is. the nimble strength and rough tenderness in my creator’s hands taught me everything i needed to know about love.

it’s hallows eve. my birthday. how’s that 4 blessed, huh? u know you’re bound to a twisted life when you’re born on the day meant 4 celebrating death.

born 2 die.

this journal is a gift from Mother. 4 your poetry, she said with her sad voice and sadder smile. of course it’s the wrong color. pink (her favorite color) with some inspirational quote engraved on it that’s supposed to enlighten me. instead it sickens me. not the effect the unknown author was going 4 i’m sure. the moment i saw the journal i knew i wanted nothing to do with it. i almost tossed it when a queer idea struck me. i wrapped it in crushed black velvet and trimmed it with crimson ribbon, like a bloody vein. the pink has been vanquished.

never fear, diary dear, the hallowed eve’s girl is here!

i immediately took care of u. and now i claim u. u are not allowed to touch another’s hands or look into their eyes. if u do, i will wilt. like a poisoned flower, i shall die. and if the day comes that u look upon another, i know that i am no longer alive. just a haunt of a girl, haunting and haunted. we are bound now. promise me this, and i promise 2 tell u everything. we bond in blood, it’s just a pinprick, on the first page here, see? i’ve marked u with the only part of me i know how to freely give. my blood. so if another touches u, close your eyes, do not let them see. but if u must open them, please choose wisely. be my protector.

if u dare.

well isn’t this cute? trick-or-treaters are outside my bedroom window ringing the doorbell. i hear Mother’s faint voice complimenting them, smoothing them with her spawn honey. i hear their giggles and the wonder in their tones at her soft approach. she has a way of doing that to people, convincing them she’s warm as sun, sweet as sugar, harmless as a skittish deer. i marvel at it. her technique i didn’t inherit. why don’t they see? why don’t people ever see that’s she’s as vicious as a pack of hungry wolves, cold as frostbite on a century’s winter lawn, dark as death.

me? i don’t trick-or-treat anymore. i play with ouija boards and get buzzed off alcohol. cigarettes are my candy.

monday, november 3rd
this scorching arizona desert just might be hell with its cavernous sands and wicked whirlwinds. my skin is dry. my throat parched. i’m dying of thirst over here! save me, will ya?

i’ve taken ice cubes from Mother’s freezer. they’re in my left hand. i’m holding onto them tight as tight can be. i like the freeze against my skin. the pricking, needling pain that begs me to let go but i never do. frozen spike-filled numbness. i hold the ice til it melts and drips onto the page.

porcelain doll
the cold brings me to life but of course the girl doesn’t notice. she’s as dumb as they come and unlike that rag of a doll, i refuse to speak of my creator. i don’t remember anyways. is there really a need for such frivolousness as trying to remember one’s fashioner? obviously i’ve been fashioned. the details are trite and unnecessary.

thursday, november 6th
i’m writing in the high school bathroom. it was quiet 10 minutes ago. now there are girls in here, 2 of them, giggling about nothing. i can’t stand that type of sound. empty sounds, unburdened by life. carefree, i guess. u and i are leaving now. they’ve stopped giggling. their mouths are open. they’re staring at me. yeah i know what i look like. a walking tombstone.

do u think it strange, i wonder, that i carry a needle to prick my skin and anoint u? the pain is sweet and the drops not too many.

my button eyes were sewn on last. i saw my maker. old and weathered, battered by time, her skin dark chocolate and her eyes rheumatic and blind. she saw me smile and smiled in return, patting my stuffed arms and legs. she’ll need you, she whispered in a voice i recognized as my own. i travelled great distances, through many hands and lives, none of them right for me, to find the girl who needs me most, the one my creator created me for.

saturday, november 8th
lexi wants to do it 2nite. dye her hair. she doesn’t want to wait a minute longer. it’s 9pm now. Mother doesn’t know i’m going, and even if she did, she could care less. don’t worry, diary dearest, i’m bringing u with me. it’s a mile to the small apartment where lexi and her blob mother live. lexi needs me as much as i need her.

demonic-touched girls horde together. it’s up to us to rid ourselves of the evil’s heavy-laden, unasked 4 touch.

if we can.

1 a.m.
well, we did it. lexi’s sunflower blonde hair is now abyss black, deep-dark as a well, like mine. i helped her dye it a few hours ago. she held onto the bathroom sink and cried about her demon, the brother in prison who did things to her a brother never should while the other brother turned away. i kissed her pale forehead, cool damp from water, and whispered in her ear, we have each other now, i moved her strands of hair (i’d move heaven and earth) from her line of sight, we’ll pull each other thru this hell and we won’t look back. aren’t we now bonded by our hair and eyes, black and blue? when she looked in the mirror she saw my words were true.

i took the silver dagger from my bag, the one i ordered thru wiccan stars, my ultimate fave catalog and told her 2 follow me.


  1. Hi Pasha.
    Your piece is extremely interesting. I did have to read a couple of times to understand what was going on, but once I figured it out I found it very intriguing.

    However,you may want to clarify where the character is--more setting or somehow ground the reader. It felt like there was too much being introduced at once. There were a lot of characters talking and I understood what they were, I just don't quite understand their connection. Maybe make that more clear.

    The lowercase and text like writing tend to make it seem like one big journal entry. You may want to make the distinction between her writing in the journal and her actions different. As much as I loved that last line, I wondered if it was a journal entry or just the MCs action, which I think it's her action.

    I look forward to reading the revision.

    I hope this helps.

  2. Hi Christine,

    Thank you for commenting! And yes, you're right, it is one long journal entry. =)

    I will take your suggestion on clarifying the relationship between mc and her dolls, as well as grounding the reader. =)

  3. Hi Pasha,
    Wow. There's a lot of pain on those pages. I had to read it a number of times. I agreed with Christine. I needed a setting and something real to follow the story. When your characters changed in the journal, making the shift was confusing. Your descriptions were wonderful of the mother and the daughter's disdain and the girls changing their appearance. I began to get pulled in with her pain and the hatred of her life. Actually worried about the girls and what they may be planning to do??

  4. Hi Sheri,

    Thank you!

    Yes, the formatting changed when uploaded to this site. It's even confusing for me to read it on here. =) In my ms, the shift between my mc and her dolls is very evident so there's no confusion. It's more of a visual change. Of course, maybe the dolls voices aren't strong enough to show a striking difference from mc? I'd like to know. It's so hard being objective w/ your own work. =)

    I'll definitely work on grounding!!

  5. I love your writing! And the paranormal feeling is very evident. The atmosphere is strong, too. I can feel the foreboding and painful emotions. So we'll done there!

    I was confused about what was going on and who was speaking. Once I read more of the story, I didn't have a problem understanding. But you need a setting or a solid piece of writing to ground MC and her story right from the beginning.

    I plan to come back and offer a more detailed critique.

    1. Thank you! And yes I will certainly follow that advice. =)

  6. Hi Pasha,

    Your story is both creative and unique! You do an amazing job of creating a chilling mood and showing your character's pain. Her isolation from the world around her and her desire to hurt herself comes through clearly.

    Questions came into my mind as I read. Some of these don't need to be addressed in the first chapter, but should be answered at some point in the story.

    Is she possessed right now?

    If not, is her dark view of the world a result of being possessed in the past?

    Are there good demons and bad ones? Her ragdoll feels like a benevolent spirit.

    Does she see her mother differently because of demons?

    Your use of sensory details is awesome. My hand ached during the ice cube scene!

    Nitpicky bits:

    I had to read the paragraph about the butterfly bookmark twice. Consider changing the first line to something like, "When Mother gave me this journal, she attached a butterfly bookmark with a safety pin."

    I felt the line, "i move in red and breath" sounded more like the MCs voice than ragdoll's.

    When the MC says on monday, november 3rd, "I'm dying of thirst over here! save me, will ya?" who is she addressing?

    Mostly the MC appears to be talkomg to her diary, which I liked.

    Is she talking to her diary when she says, "do u think it strange..."

    Consider removing blind from the description of the ragdoll's maker.

    Does lexi see demons, too?

    Your paragraph of how the MC is with lexi is tender, moving, and extremely painful. Good work!

    Your unusual story telling techniques, the pain, and the mystery kept me reading. I like that you ended with an action about to happen. This story will be even stronger when you introduce the plot. Consider doing this as soon as possible.

    Nice work!

    1. Thank you Lauren for investing so much of your time and for your compliments! I'm looking forward to incorporating your suggestions. =)

      And yes, my mc is solely addressing her diary. Does this need more clarity? Also, every question you listed is answered as the story evolves.

      Thanks again!

    2. You're very welcome!

      I wasn't always sure if your mc was addressing her diary. Since you have a lot going on with shifting POVs, perhaps you can give a few more cues a la "yes, diary dearest" variety. After the first chapter, you can use fewer cues because the reader will be oriented.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Hi Pasha,
    You captured the angst with such clarity! I’m confused with how the dolls fit into the story. It will be interesting to see how you address this in your next revision.

  8. HI! Sorry so late... Very intriguing and definitely dark, which I like. ;D But I will caution that as cool as your "differences" are, they are distracting as well. Small case letters, single letters - do people write that way when not texting? - and I think maybe there are a few too many things happening for such short entries. You have the journal, the doll, and reality in bites. Maybe just the journal and the doll? OR make one the main part of the book and the others smaller? I felt a little pulled all over. I wonder if you have to interject the doll so much on the first five pages? Perhaps just once so we meet her? Just a thought. You've set up an interesting situation and I'm certainly curious. I worry that we need a seed of more likability in the MC. Some part of her that isn't bitter and angry that we can glimpse on occasion in her diary perhaps...

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Thank you and I appreciate your feedback!!

      Just for clarity, it is strictly the MC addressing her diary. No reality bits. =) What parts are you referring to, I wonder? I'd like to clarify them. Perhaps the two dolls?

      And yes, some people have written that way long before texting came about. Tupac Shakur is 1 famous example. And of course, little ol' me. =) But I'm happy to change that if it's truly too distracting.

      I will certainly incorporate having each doll speak only once and proving MC's likability. Actually the very next journal entry in my ms illustrates her tenderness, and of course, it's interwoven throughout the story. Balance is important.

      Thanks again! =)

  9. Hi Pasha,

    Wow. The emotions in this are so well done. Chilling and lovely.
    About what Lisa said about the writing. I think replacing the u's with you's would really help with the distraction of it. I don't mind the lack of capitals. I don't use them myself when I write by hand.
    Is it possible to move some of the Lexi stuff closer to the beginning. I didn't care about your character until I sww her with Lexi. Maybe you can at least mention her earlier and hint that they are up to something. I feel like I need a little conflict sooner.

    Sorry about the formatting. I'll see what I can do about in your revision. Can you send it as an attachment? I can probably work with it better in Word.

    1. Hi Jan,

      Thank you! Wonderful advice that I will certainly use.

      And yes, I will send it as an attachment. Thank you for the option!

    2. I agree that the part about Lexi showed the reader your MCs tenderness and vulnerability, which I loved. The fact that we'd seen her bitterness before made it even more powerful. If you decide to move it up in the story, don't put it before we glimpse her dark side, imo.