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LESSON #3 IN REVISION

One more from THE MONSTER IN ME:


“Mmm. Those are really good,” I say. “Thanks, Alice. You’re a great cook.”

“You really think so?” says Alice.

“I nod vigorously, embarrassed at the look of gratitude on her face.

“Of course, Kate has to ruin it all by poking her head back in the kitchen at the last minute. “She’s just not used to having good food. She’d probably eat dog food if she has to.”

“It is not a good moment for me. Because I can remember eating dog food. Out of a dog’s bowl, too. It was on a day when the money had run out and I’d had nothing to eat except watered down milk and cereal for three days. The smell of dog food wasn’t great, but it was meat, and I wanted meat.

““Katherine, go to your room,” John says sternly. “I don’t want to see you again until you’ve apologized to Natalie for that remark.”

“Kate doesn’t look too happy. “Fine,” she says. “I don’t want to go to school today anyway.”

“Alice puts a hand on John’s arm as Kate walks away, pretending not to be mad, but not doing very well at it, for all her acting talent. “Are you sure you should have done that?” she asks. “I’ve been having trouble getting her to school all week as it is.”

“John purses his lips. “I’ll deal with it,” he says. Then he turns to me. I’m sorry about this, Natalie,” he says.


My editor commented in the margins: “Mette, can you add a little more here? What is John and Alice’s reaction to the dog food story?”

“Then the next paragraph, she writes: “Here would be an opportunity to add a few lines hinting at the tension between John and Alice.”

“Also, more tightening is going on here, particularly where I am letting my main character interpret everyone’s reactions. The reader is the one who is supposed to do this. The main character should just be reporting what happens, not telling what it means.

“As edited:

““Mmm. Those are really good,” I say. “Thanks, Alice. You’re a great cook.”

““You really think so?” says Alice.

“I nod vigorously, embarrassed at the look of gratitude on her face.

““She’s just not used to having good food. She’d probably eat dog food if she has to,” says Kate.

““I have eaten dog food, before.”

“Everyone’s eyes freeze on me.

“When the money had run out and I’d had nothing to eat except watered down milk and cereal for three days. The dog food wasn’t great, but it was meat, and I wanted meat.

“There is a long silence. I can’t believe I said all that out loud. I never told anyone at the group home about what happened before I got there.

““That’s terrible,” says Alice.

““Liz makes a soft sound deep in her throat.”

““Katherine, go to your room,” John says sternly. “I don’t want to see you again until you’ve apologized to Natalie for that remark.”

“Kate doesn’t look too happy. “Fine,” she says. “I don’t want to go to school today anyway.”

“Alice puts a hand on John’s arm as Kate stomps away. “Are you sure you should have done that?” she asks. “I’ve been having trouble getting her to school all week as it is.”

““Well maybe you wouldn’t have so much trouble with her if you cut her off a little more quickly,” says John.

“Alice takes a deep breath.

““I don’t think that’s fair,” she says.

“John purses his lips. “I’ll deal with it,” he says. Then he turns to me. I’m sorry about this, Natalie,” he says.



Copyright Mette Ivie Harrison 2011 all rights reserved.
Last revised August 10, 2011.