Monday, October 15, 2012

7 1st 5 Pages October Workshop - Di Gesu Rev 1

Name: Michael Di Gesu
Genre: Y/A Edgy Contemporary
Title: The Blinded Gardener

One moment I’m my Dad’s personal punching bag, and the next, well, I’m a pawn in his maniacal master plan. That was, until Danny entered the picture and discovered my secret.

As the son of a Marine Corp Captain, I had little choice in the decision making of my life. Dad used his usual tactics to persuade me to leave my mom and San Diego to move across the country with him. Needless to say, life in Beaufort, North Carolina wasn’t anything like I had expected.

Once again, I found myself at a new school, the third in two years. It sucked having to live by Dad’s starched and mind-numbing military code 24/7. How much more could I take? No honorable discharge was in my future. Not until I turn eighteen. That is if I live that long.

The warning bell rang for first period. The halls cleared with the slamming of doors. As I wandered about searching for my classroom, I heard someone approach me from behind. Long bangs fell over his eyes as he loped past me with a kind of natural ease.

Didn’t he see me standing here, screwing around with this frickin’ map?

“Hey, dude. Could you tell me how to get to room 305?”

A slight curl formed on his lips as he faced me. He tossed his head. Platinum fringe shifted to the side and revealed freakish blue eyes that glanced toward me, unfocused.

Holy shit! Is he blind? Or is he stoned?

“I’m heading that way.” His deep voice held a trace of a southern accent.

I envied his height: well over six feet and me just an average dude.

“You better move. Connors has little patience when you’re late.”

I rushed to catch up to him. His hand overshot the dented metal banister. On the second swipe, he made contact and climbed the stairs.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

He never looked back, not even when he spoke.


His shoulder bumped the wall turning the corner. “Damn!” Rubbing it, he coasted down the hall and stopped midway. “Here you are.” A glint of blue shot at me from under his bangs. “By the way, I’m Danny,” he said, low. He did an about face and was gone.

I shook my head and wondered, what’s his deal?

As I entered the classroom, Mr. Connors paused in mid sentence. “You’re late, Mr—?.

Was he serious? No one calls me mister. “Eh, Forester.”

“Well, Mr. Forester, welcome. Now if you would please take your seat.” In the next breath he continued with the lesson.

Eyes darted from all directions as I made my way toward the back of the classroom. I dropped into the only vacant seat and fumbled through my backpack, searching for my social studies book.

The girl next to me checked out my every move.

Not bad. Redheads really know how to getta dude off.

She caught my eye. After flexing, my pecs and abs strained under the muscle tee that clung to me.

Thick black lashes fluttered as her hazel eyes widened, and the blush in her cheeks matched the freckles on her nose.

Mr. Connors cleared his throat, bore his eagle eyes right into me, and droned on about the domestic issues and conflicts of the Federalist period. I picked up my notebook and tried to comprehend his jabber. Not at all interested in anything he had to say, my eyes wandered, sizing up the kids in class.


I didn’t need to search long to see the usual cliques. Two jocks, clueless in the first row, looked more confused and bored than me. Next to them, a couple of cheerleaders licked their bubblegum pink lip gloss, trying to capture Team Beaufort’s attention.

Glancing to my left, a pig-tailed chick in specs scribbled non-stop, keeping up with the three nerds in crisp, white button down shirts surrounding her. Behind them a group of tough, tattooed, and pierced guys, wearing leather vests and torn jeans shifted in desks far to small for their bulk.

About half the students were black or hispanic. A lot more than in my last school. Not one Asian kid. That surprised me.

Connors’ jagged pacing captured my attention. I listened to a few words before peering out the window. The bright blue sky reminded me of Danny’s unfocused eyes.


After another half-an-hour of mindless drivel, the bell rang. The smoldering redhead asked about my next class. She licked her lips and waited for me to answer. I shuffled through my notebook and found the schedule.

“English with Hartnett in room 223.” I snapped the notebook shut, and stuffed it into my backpack.

“Oh, I’m in that class, too.” She stood and ran her hand through her hair, pushing it behind her ear.

Locking her eyes on mine, she said, “Are you coming?”

Not yet. You love bad boys, don’t you Red? I’ll give you what you want. You’re not the first.

“Yeah, I’ll be there in a minute.”

She narrowed her eyes.

After flexing the guns, I picked up my backpack, adjusted my crotch, and took my sweet time before drifting over to her.

“I’m Tanya, by the way,” she said in a breathy voice.


As we made our way down the hall, I caught a glimpse of Danny and jerked my chin toward him.

“Do you know that dude?”

“Yes. Why?”

“What’s his story, anyway?”

Tanya paled and her eyes dulled. As she spoke, her voice quivered. “I really can’t talk about it. Let’s say he had it all and now —”


“Let’s go. We’ll be late.” She proceeded toward the staircase like a mouse trapped in a maze.

What the hell’s up with the people at this school?

At the sound of the bell, I peeled in the same direction as Tanya. She almost disappeared in the crush of bodies with only her fiery mane visible.

Shoving my way through the mass, snide remarks and “What the fuck” expressions shot back at me. I ignored them and focused only on Tanya’s hair. A few minutes later, I found room 223 and burst through the door with a loud bang. Necks snapped in my direction. Mr. Hartnett dropped the book from his hands and it crashed to the floor.

Spotting Tanya, I worked my way toward the back and sat in the seat she had saved for me.

“Sorry,” she whispered.

I rolled my eyes and glanced at the black and white cover of a book propped on top of the desk.

Flipping through it, I scoffed.

Hmmm. The Crucible, by Arthur Miller. What a joke. Like I’m gonna read this shit.

I slammed the book shut. Four or five people around me flinched.

“Is there some sort of problem?” Mr. Harnett asked with a shaky voice.

Man this guy is ancient. He’s way past retirement.


“Then please open your book and read the first chapter like your classmates.” He shuffled some papers on his desk and picked up what looked like a roster. “What’s your name young man?”

At first I ignored him. School was such a waste of time. I’m no scholar, films are all I care about. Not this crap.

A gentle hand touched my right arm. I shifted myself toward Tanya. She pleaded with her eyes.

“Fine,” I muttered and faced Harnett. “Aidan Forester,” I called out.

Tanya stroked my arm and I got an instant rise.

This chick’s hot for me. I can’t wait to hook up with her.


  1. "I didn’t need to search long to see the usual cliques. Two jocks, clueless in the first row, looked more confused and bored than me. Next to them, a couple of cheerleaders licked their bubblegum pink lip gloss, trying to capture Team Beaufort’s attention."

    Really loved this paragraph! Felt it put me in the character's head, and told me what I needed to know about his view of the world--all in a couple of sentences.

    Thought the entire piece hide a nice flow to it, and the dialogue felt very natural.

    Overall, very good job, Michael.

  2. Wow. Really, really liked your revisions! I felt like I knew your MC more with the information in the beginning but didn't feel like it was an information download. Great job getting us to feel for him and start to root for him at the outset, even if he is a little unlikable. I liked the teaser in the beginning about a secret that Danny uncovers about your MC.

  3. You're definitely getting there, but I'd still like to connect more with your character. Like I said, being like that on the outside is one thing, but give us a sense of vulnerability too. I liked Martina's idea of having an interaction with the dad so we can see what happens. I still feel like the opening is a bit telling. I'd love you to start with this:

    Once again, I found myself at a new school, the third in two years. It sucked having to live by Dad’s starched and mind-numbing military code 24/7. How much more could I take? No honorable discharge was in my future. Not until I turn eighteen. That is if I live that long.

    We get from this that the dad's military and what the basic issue is, then we can see a glimpse of how his dad treats him THEN the chip on his shoulder and I really think you have something. I especially liked the voice in this paragraph. My two cents! Good luck!

  4. I agree with Lisa. The tone in the first two sentences doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the writing. I understand that they come from the MC at a later time, but because they don't really get explained in the coming pages, it falls a bit flat for me. I keep wondering what this secret is, and when I'm going to find out about it--if I have to read and read until I understand. Is there another way where you can bring in the same idea?

    Otherwise, great revision!


  5. Overall I like your revisions. I still feel the first paragraph doesn't fit with the rest of the piece. I'm left wondering how long we will have to wait to find out his secret.

    I love the tone of the third paragraph. That really gives good insight to Aidan's life with his dad and possibly a foreshadow with that last sentence. Nice!

    I agree with Lisa on Aidan needing to be more vulnerable. Otherwise, I like the revision!

  6. Hi Michael,

    I TOTALLY agree with Lisa. That's the jumping off point and the voice right there. You can work in the Danny finding out later, but I really don't think we need it. That one paragraph hooks us and it is beautifully, beautifully written in a wonderful deep pov that tells us so much. The same goes for the jock paragraph. Flexing his guns, things like that aren't quite as successful, especially since we don't see the action that precipitates it. Is he just standing in the hall at random making muscles in both arms like a bodybuilder?

    This revision is SO much better, but I think you can go further into being a little bit more subtle about the whole Tanya thing. It's not him I'm worried about. It's that her niceness doesn't come off as totally believable yet.

    Eager to see where you go from here :)



  7. I really like this! It grabbed my attention and while I see where the rest are coming from vulnerability, I do sort of like Aiden's attitude--military brat, born and raised. I do think if you showed a reason to why he is so uptight other than his dad--something as simple as, "It's better to be the new badass in school rather than the wuss or a nerd" could help see some more insight to Aiden.

    One more thing, when does he turn eighteen--does he have any big plan for when it happens?
    I like how there is something going on with that Danny kid and hope we can see more on that.


Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)