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50/50 Exercise #10: Expansion of Previous Text


By the time I got to Angie’s neighborhood, I didn’t see any ambulance or highway patrol cars. I looked for signs of an accident, a mark on the pavement or something out of place. But what she’d said on the phone had been real sketchy on details, so I wasn’t even sure I was searching in the right spot. There, in front of the Diamond Shamrock, where the road makes a lazy s—were those skid marks on the wet asphalt? Had that light pole always tilted a little to the right? Maybe it had.

I’d driven to Angie’s house a thousand times, but not usually in the early hours of the morning, and not after being woken up from a hangover sleep by a hysterical phone call. And I hadn’t made this trip very often in the rain, at night, wearing glasses instead of contact lenses. Anyway, why would I bother to pay attention to this piece of road? It was unremarkable in every way, except that it’s right before the left turn into my ex-girlfriend’s subdivision.

I pulled my truck into the empty driveway. When she opened the door, she held herself together for half a second. Then she must have seen my look of surprise as I took in her wet hair, soggy clothes, and the remnants of makeup smeared all over her face, and she fell apart. “Oh, baby! I’m sorry, I’m sorry! It was just…. I mean I…I didn’t know who else to call, I don’t know what…I’m so so sorry!” She wasn’t ready to start making sense, so I pulled her tight against my chest. She sobbed and shook with cold and panic. “I’m so sorry….”

I helped her inside the house. Whatever had happened, there was no reason to share it with her neighbors. I led her to the couch. I thought for a split second about how we’d grappled on this couch right before she threw me out the last time. But there was no time to think about what she wanted that she said I couldn’t give her. I needed to get a better idea of what she’d done—or what she thought she’d done.

“C’mon now, babe. Take a couple deep breaths, and tell me what happened. It’s all gonna be okay. You’ll see.”

It took me the better part of an hour to get the story out of her. Every time I thought the sobbing was over, I’d ask a question that was too matter-of-fact, sounded too much like an off-duty reserve deputy sheriff, and she’d go to pieces again.

“We went to the Half Moon after we got off work. Lorraine wanted to have a drink ’cause she says it’s all over with Bobby, there’s no way she’s gonna take him back again. I said no, I’m due back here at 7:30, and she said, oh come on, just come with me for one.

“So we took her car, and I left mine behind the diner where I always park it. ’Cause you know I’d always rather ride with somebody else, especially if I’m gonna be drinking. And it was Lorraine’s party.

“That guy with the arms was working the back bar at the Half Moon, so Lorraine and me went back there to get a couple beers. He said, ladies, can I get you started with a shot of tequila, and next thing I know, Lorraine is slamming her shot glass on the bar, and her and the bartender were saying, drink! drink! drink! and you know I don’t do well on tequila.”

Author’s note: The assignment today was to look back through our work in the class so far and choose one text to expand. I opted to rework Exercise #4: Telling a Secret. You can read the notes on the first draft for an explanation of where this story originated.

It still needs more work, but at least I’ve addressed most of Gayle’s comments!

This is the second draft of this story.  [ READ FIRST DRAFT ]

5 comments to 50/50 Exercise #10: Expansion of Previous Text

  • rosa

    Hi Ed ~
    I just spent the best period of time leisurely reading your assignments. Thank you so much for letting us into your writing world. I, too, just want to read more, be told more about each character, be surprised by what comes next. I will check in more regularly now.
    Big hug ~ Rosa

  • Gayle Goddard

    You are right – this is cleaner. Her dialogue at the door conveys much more clearly her panic and hysteria – it no longer sounds stiff. Funny how hard it is for you to write “white trash”! This sentence is more Mansfield Park than Joe Dirt – “you know I don’t do well on tequila.” No white trash chick is ever going to say “do well.” I think you have to do some research there – your English and grammer are way too good – they keep creeping in where they are not wanted! We need to take you to that bar on the water in Kemah (Boat House? Boat Dock?) and let you gather dialogue and phrasing there. Sounds like a good summer road trip to me.

    The cool thing is this is the only second draft I’ve seen. But there is a marked change for the better in the revisions. You are that much closer to the final product and the revision added substantial value. Can you feel yourself getting near the goal of a finished story product?

  • efg


    Thanks! How are your 50/50 efforts going? I’d love to take a look if there’s anything you feel like sharing.


    Is it as simple as changing “well” to “good”? Or does the word “do” not work? (I’m guessing “fare” is out?) 🙂

    To think that I’ve wasted valuable years laughing at people who speak substandard English, when all this time I should have been taking notes!

    Will there be a third draft? Stay tuned….

  • Gayle, the cheerleader

    Well, let’s see. “You know I don’t do well on tequila” could be “You know I get f___ed up on tequila” or
    “You know I get totally wasted on tequila” or
    “You know I get sh__faced on tequila” or a lame version,
    “You know I can’t drink tequila”

    Do you see the trend in profanity here? Can I write profanity in your blog comments?

  • efg

    Yes, please! I don’t want to be the only one with a potty mouth. (And I’ve adjusted the content filter to the “Mature Adults” setting.)

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