Sunday, April 6, 2014

How to Show First Awkwardness with Ex-wife Then Chemistry with New Love Interest

In writing my novel STALKING THE SKY, I wanted to describe the awkwardness of an ex-husband and wife meeting at a party after a number of years have passed. while also imparting a sense of their ill-suitedness. I also wanted to show how exciting a relationship might be with the man's new lover, who is giving the party.

Here's an excerpt:

As soon as Will began picking his way among the small knots of people to locate Donna, his high spirits returned. The day’s work had been a triumph. The party and the excitement of New York had buoyed him.

"Oh, my God! Will!"

He turned toward the voice. "Hello, Carla."

He had broken off with Carla the same night she asked him to move in with her, as he guessed she would; she had timed every move with exasperating precision. Will had told her he did not intend to be squeezed and bent to fit the empty places in someone else’s life.

"You’re . . . you’re in New York."

"Only for the night. How have you been?"

"I’ve been well, Will." She had regained her poise. "I’m into self-actualization now and it’s given me a great deal of confidence."

"The new hair style, is that part of it?"

"The hair style, the clothes—I think they express a freer, more open me. The best part is that I’ve been able to come to grips with my father’s role in my life—you remember me telling you about my father—and accept him and understand that he acted out of love. I can say all those things openly to him now."

"Isn’t your father dead?"

"That really isn’t the point."

A hand slipped through Will’s arm. "I see you two have found each other again. What do old lovers say to each other?"

Belinda had joined them. Her face was lit by a mischievous grin. Will refused to be drawn in.

"The really old ones talk about their grandchildren, lumbago and hospital costs. Belinda, this is a spectacular show. I had no idea you were so accomplished."

"Thank you. I’m glad you could come." She turned to Carla. "We literally bumped into each other on an elevator this morning. I was with Cassie." She turned back to Will. "Carla is engaged, you know."

"Congratulations. Do I know him?"

Will’s interest seemed merely courteous, Belinda noted.

"Dave Delauney. He’s gone to fetch me a drink."

"The way you say that bodes well for a satisfying life together."

Belinda said, "I hope you don’t mind, Carla, if I introduce Will to some people here."

"It was good to see you, Will. Perhaps we could have dinner."

"Perhaps on some other trip."

Belinda guided Will toward a large canvas. Gloomy colors formed a faint profile of the painter.

"That’s what I look like in the morning," she remarked lightly.

"I apologize for the way my compliment before may have sounded," Will said.

"It’s just that so many of Carla’s friends did nothing with their lives, and they all called themselves interior decorators or jewelry designers . . ."

"Or painters?"

"Or painters. Why do you paint your self-portrait so often? Narcissism?"

"Cheap model." She eyed him wryly. "People who dislike me say it’s a clever way to promote myself. Now, what about you? You live in Colorado, you said. What kind of work do you do there?"

"Legal work, for Global Universal Airlines."

"That’s interesting."

"Every time I tell people who I work for, they insist on telling me how they were bumped off a flight or lost their luggage. What have you lost?"

"Absolutely nothing. In fact, I’m still a virgin with my first set of teeth."

Will laughed unreservedly. With friends, Belinda’s funny, outrageous lines snapped the air around her like firecrackers. But with new people, especially men, enjoyment of them was a kind of test—one that Will had just passed. Particularly now, Belinda would have liked to stay with him, but she had other commitments.


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