Imitating the Greatest Novel in History - Part 2 of ?

Innovative imitation is not an easy task. I see a problem for paragraph four and I have not been looking forward to tackling it. But, here we go.


Here are the fourth and fifth paragraphs from "Replay" by Ken Grimwood.

"Do you know what we need, Jeff?"

And he was supposed to say, "What's that, hon?" was supposed to say it distractedly and without interest as he read Hugh Sidey's column about the presidency in Time. But Jeff wasn't distracted; he didn't give a damn about Sidey's ramblings. He was in fact more focused and aware than he had been in a long, long time. So he didn't say anything at all for several moments; he just stared at the false tears in Linda's eyes and thought about the things they needed, he and she.

So, why is this so difficult. Well, there are going to be a few reasons, but the first one is that the fourth paragraph is a repeat of a phrase in paragraph three that I'm not sure it makes sense for me to do in my version because it isn't dialogue, which may also mess up paragraph five. Let's see if I can make it work. I'm going to paste my first three paragraphs in here and then extend the piece with numbers four and five.

Tom Brooks was reading the newspaper when the lights went out.



"Terror in downtown . . ." he was reading, and he never got to read what the terror was, because something crackled outside, the lightbulb flashed and burst above his head. The newspaper fell from his hands as hot glass rained down around him in the dark.

Just yesterday something similar had happened, there had been a flash - not darkness, not total, not permanent like this, but a flicker none-the-less. He'd been standing in front of the fireplace, what he liked to call the "hearth," although it wasn't so impressive as that sounded, just a little metal grate within a simple stone encasement that was set in an awkward position between the living room and just left of the entrance way. Tom had been staring into the flames when it happened, and maybe the light from the fire was what started his mind turning, had lent the occurrence more import than it necessitated.

Aahhh. I think there are two things I can do: make a sound, or change the third paragraph. I would prefer to keep moving forward, although George Martin doesn't just move forward. This makes him a slow writer, but a great one. Let's try moving forward with the sound device which has the improper Greek name in English, onomatopoeia.

Now, a more subtle problem. What sound should I make? What about, "Krrrrsh-st-st-pa-zzzz-Tah." Lol, that thing just kept growing. I don't think I've ever seen a sound like that, but I think it kind of works.

"Krrrrsh-st-st-pa-zzzz-Tah."

He was supposed to go check the breakers, was supposed to call the power company, ask them in an annoyed tone when the power was going to be back on. But Tom wasn't annoyed; he didn't give a damn about the power. He was in fact more calm and aware than he had been in a long, long time. So he didn't do anything at all for several moments; he just stared into the darkness and thought about terror.

That might not be bad. It was interesting to write. That last word was a hard decision, but I think it kind of works. This story might be going a little darker than I thought it would. Let's look at the first five paragraphs of each piece put together. First, "Replay".

Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died.

"We need--" she'd said, and he never heard her say just what it was they needed, because something heavy seemed to slam against his chest, crushing the breath out of him. The phone fell from his hand and cracked the glass paperweight on his desk.

Just the week before, she'd said something similar, had said, "Do you know what we need, Jeff?" and there'd been a pause - not infinite, not final, like this mortal pause, but a palpable interim nonetheless. He'd been sitting at the kitchen table, in what Linda liked to call the "breakfast nook," although it wasn't really a separate space at all, just a little formica table with two chairs placed awkwardly between the left side of the refrigerator and the front of the clothes drier. Linda had been chopping onions at the counter when she said it, and maybe the tears at the corner of her eyes were what had set him thinking, had lent her question more import than she'd intended.

"Do you know what we need, Jeff?"


And he was supposed to say, "What's that, hon?" was supposed to say it distractedly and without interest as he read Hugh Sidey's column about the presidency in Time. But Jeff wasn't distracted; he didn't give a damn about Sidey's ramblings. He was in fact more focused and aware than he had been in a long, long time. So he didn't say anything at all for several moments; he just stared at the false tears in Linda's eyes and thought about the things they needed, he and she.

Now, the story of Tom Brooks and something to do with darkness and terror.

Tom Brooks was reading the newspaper when the lights went out.



"Terror in downtown . . ." he was reading, and he never got to read what the terror was, because something crackled outside, the lightbulb flashed and burst above his head. The newspaper fell from his hands as hot glass rained down around him in the dark.

Just yesterday something similar had happened, there had been a flash - not darkness, not total, not permanent like this, but a flicker none-the-less. He'd been standing in front of the fireplace, what he liked to call the "hearth," although it wasn't so impressive as that sounded, just a little metal grate within a simple stone encasement that was set in an awkward position between the living room and just left of the entrance way. Tom had been staring into the flames when it happened, and maybe the light from the fire was what started his mind turning, had lent the occurrence more import than it necessitated.

"Krrrrsh-st-st-pa-zzzz-Tah."

He was supposed to go check the breakers, was supposed to call the power company, ask them in an annoyed tone when the power was going to be back on. But Tom wasn't annoyed; he didn't give a damn about the power. He was in fact more calm and aware than he had been in a long, long time. So he didn't do anything at all for several moments; he just stared into the darkness and thought about terror.

Oh man, I think I made a mistake. In "Replay" the fifth paragraph is back in time, at the first instance where she said "We need--". My fifth paragraph is in the present. This is an issue. Dang, dang, dang. What to do, what to do? I could just leave it, but that is really sticking with the assignment, but what I have kind of works. I'm going to come back to this with a fresh perspective later and see how it sounds.

You are welcome to see what happens next at JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com

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