Tag Archives: Eighties

Section 13

Hello from the Dogpatch! Since 2000, our group has been reading and commenting on each other’s work. Those of you in writing groups well know the rewards of watching your friends’ work flourish over time. A few years ago we started posting parts of our critiques on this blog and have appreciated everyone who joins our ongoing conversation about writing and revising. Many thanks for reading!

Today we bring you “Section 13,” a chapter from Wes Pierce’s novel in progress. In this chapter, the book’s protag, Amnesty, is searching for her missing brother, Tracy, a suspected felon. En route Amnesty visits the home of a childhood friend, Lynette, who’s still living in the 1980s and in alcoholic squalor. She unknowingly helps Amnesty begin to unravel the mystery surrounding her missing brother. Here’s a short excerpt with our comments following. We don’t post the entire piece since these are often submitted later, but you can read another excerpt and more discussion about Wes’s novel here. Feel free to jump into the fray! Your comments are always welcome and much appreciated!


[from “Section 13”]

The room was quite dark with the door closed. Amnesty stood squinting for a moment in the cave-like gloom, waiting for her eyes to adjust, making out shapes by the scant light the television provided. She could see now they were showing an old Disney movie.

‘Give me the secret, mancub. Clue me what to do,’ sang King Louie. ‘Give me the power of man’s red flower, so I can be like you.’

‘So how are your folks holding up?’ Lynette said.

‘My dad’s locked himself in his room and won’t come out.’

‘I wanna talk like you. Walk like you, too,’ Louis Prima, a.k.a. King Louie, sang. ‘You’ll see it’s true. Someone like me can learn to be like someone like you.’

Lynette walked over and turned down the sound on the television.

‘Jesus, what a mess,’ she said. ‘But what’re you gonna do?’

For one wild, disorienting moment Amnesty thought her friend was talking about the state of her own house, but then she realized Lynette was talking about Tracy.

‘Do? I want to help my brother, of course,’ Amnesty said. ‘I mean, he’s on the run. He must be frightened and feeling all alone. But I don’t even know where to start.’

‘Aiding a suspected felon can get you in a shitload of trouble, you know.’

‘You sound like you’re talking from experience.’ Her friend said nothing. Then Amnesty said, ‘Well, I’ll worry about that later. Right now all I want is to get my brother to turn himself in before he gets himself gunned down in the street like some kind of mad-dog criminal.’

‘Well, you’re not going to be able to help your brother right this minute,’ Lynette said. ‘So why don’t you sit down and take a load off?’ Continue reading


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What a Feelin’!

Happy 30th!

Beals BackbendIt’s been three decades since director Adrian Lyne brought us the film Flashdance. In case you missed it (or were just a playful glint in some hot postman’s eye when it premiered), you can relive the same story structure in Coyote Ugly from 2000, directed by David McNally and featuring a gutsy blonde wannabe singer instead of a gutsy dark-haired wannabe dancer.

In celebration of Flashdance, my favorite-ist film ever, until Jan de Bont gave the world Speed in 1994—here you may be excused if you are now bored out of your skull, but the film Speed beautifully illustrates three-act structure, and you can learn a lot by watching it 50 or 60 times. Plus, whichever way you swing, Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock are easy on the eyes—anyway, I put on my well-used Flashdance CD and started dancing around my bedroom in the shirt I’ve been wearing for 48 hours and my long underwear, doing my best Jennifer Beals imitation—or for any of you purists out there, my best Marine Jahan imitation. Continue reading


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