NaNo Update : Excerpt #2

I've decided to post excerpts from my NaNo novel (for which I still have no title... BLARGH!!) in order, starting at the beginning. You have, of course, come across my opening, and your advice and encouragement has been so helpful.

If you want to catch up, go to this post to read the beginning.

This excerpt happens directly after my previous NaNo Update, and it's a flashback. I'm sure you'd figure that out, but just in case... :) It's a rough draft, but I feel like I get my point across. It's mostly met to establish the relationship between Natalie and her father.

Once again, any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated.

* * *
"You're leaving for Vismuth in a month, so start making preparations." Official Hansley said casually.

"I'm sorry?" Natalie said, hoping that she had misheard him.

Her father sighed. "A shuttle is leaving for the Vismuth settlement in a month, and I have made arrangements for you to be on it."

Natalie's breath caught in her throat. The Vismuth settlement was doomed to fail, and yet he still clung to its now nearly mythical success with blind, unwavering hope.

"But the incidents -" He held up his hand.

"They've been resolved."

"How?" she asked. "It was less than a month ago. People died. The after effects were too severe."

Calmly, Official Hansley cleared his throat. "Natalie, I don't answer to you. Know your place."

Fire burned her neck and cheeks. Know your place. It was a phrase that her father frequently utilized to shut her up, but this time she would not stand down.

"I know my place, Father," she said slowly, feeling both empowered and meek at the same time, "and it's not on that settlement. How can I help those people? I know nothing about terraforming."

Natalie's father clenched his jaw and narrowed his eyes. "You'll learn."

"That's not something I can learn overnight. You know it takes years."

"So it will take years."

The words boxed her ears.Years? How long did he plan for her to be on Vismuth?

"I have responsibilities here," she said.

"They'll be taken care of." His mind was set. What else could she say? Her arguments were pointless, but she could not stop herself from trying.

"But Mom. I can't leave her behind."

"She won't even realize that you're gone."

He was right, she knew, but the thought still dug aggressively into her stomach. Still, she could not leave her mother all alone.

Sheepishly, she lowered her eyes to the floor, afraid of what she was about to say.

"Why are you so intent on sending me away?"

Natalie's father leaned back in his chair, resting his hands on the armrests.

"As you know, Vismuth isn't doing well. Our funding is dwindling, and the recent problems have made the backers nervous, hesitant to finance the project. I need something - or someone - to instill confidence in them. I can't go myself because I have too many responsibilities here, but you, on the other hand, are completely free. Those funding Vismuth's growth will see that, by sending you, I have faith that we will not only succeed but will also be profitable."

Before Natalie could censor herself, her anger bust out of her like a thousand enraged wasps. "I will not be your publicity stunt!" she yelled, her green eyes flashing. "I'm not going."

In one swift, elegant movement, he stood up and leaned over his desks, his palms pressed firmly onto the antique cherry wood.

"You're going," he said, "and you're going to do it with a smile on your face. Either that or you will be completely cut off and will never see your mother again."

As the words sunk in, Natalie could feel her eyes begin to water and her chin start to quiver uncontrollably. There was nothing she could do or say to change his mind. In one month, she would be in Vismuth.

When he saw that she was not going to fight back, the Official sat back down.

"So we have an understanding?" he said, clasping his hands together, the tips of his index fingers and thumbs touching to form a triangle.

"Yes, Sir." She said it so quietly that it was barely audible. She repeated it - "Yes, Sir" - a bit more loudly just in case he had not heard her.

Her father looked blankly at the door behind her and nodded, signaling that it was her time to leave, and she obeyed.
END

So wha'd'ya think?? :) I think I'm going to go back over it to rework a bit of it, but I'm happy where it stands as a rough draft.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, etc.

Peace.
Stef.

Comments

Caine said…
The single threat of being cut off from her mother (and finances I'm assuming) has not, as of yet, sold me on the fact that a grown woman could be forced to go where she's told for years at a time without knowing when or if she'd be able to come home.

It has sold me on how mean of an antagonist the father is, so you've got me sold on that. :)

It's hard to make any other suggestions because I don't really know how many pages in the book this post is. Two?

If it is two then I think it might be a good idea to take a pause at the end there and get Natalie back to real time and into something that she'll likely NOT be able to focus on and then fall back into another flashback & so on. At least, that's how it makes sense in my mind...
Guinevere said…
I'm going to check out your excerpts next (yay! I love excerpts!) but I just wanted to tell you first that I gave you a blog award. I love checking your blog out for inspiration!

http://thisisnotnotmydayjob.blogspot.com/2010/01/blog-award-superior-scribbler.html
Jovial1 said…
I think you deftly show us the relationship that the pair have, as well as establish that it's been this way for some time. It's also efficient, summarizing their entire history together in one excerpt.

Heck, it reminds me of being called onto the carpet by my parents.
Guinevere said…
I love some of the imagery here -- like "The words boxed her ears", which is a perfect line.

What doesn't completely work for me is that it feels like she has a rapid outburst, and then rapidly acquiesces. I feel like there needs to be a little more emotional build-up and let-down. Does that make sense? I hope that makes sense. It's just that for me, I get ready for a fight, I make my points, and even if I'm being defeated, it takes me a bit to spin back down. Natalie just seems to jump from one place to another, to me.

However, this does really show where her father's priorities are and just how cruel he is. Are you planning to redeem this character in some way, or is he just an absolute villain?

P.S. I sort of love the name Estelle, instead of Natalie. Estelle is beautiful and I think works in a sci-fi. Although I know this is not a democracy. :)

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