life, writing

The True Story of …

I mentioned in my Writer’s Process post that I have a novel in the works about a modern day prophet. Below I’m sharing with you the opening pages. In order not to break up the flow, this is a longer blog post than usual.

The entire novel won’t be written for some time, but I’m curious if you find it understandable. I’ve been told by my writer’s critique group that they need more information, but I didn’t want to do an info dump. More details will come throughout the plot line. Let me know what you think. Thanks, and hope you enjoy it.

n1ma0epThe True Story of Joshua Cane

by L. Virelli

Prologue

Ozark, Missouri

Max Greenwood, June 3, 2027

I rested alone on a park bench overlooking a lake where morning mist hugged the water’s surface. Leaning forward with elbows on my knees, I clasped the diary of a dead woman in my hands and released words with a heavy breath, “Why me, Julia?”

The peaceful, deserted grounds offered the chance to quiet my mind and allow a possible answer to come forward. A paved trail from the cemetery behind me led to a path around the lake. Green rolling hills lay beyond. Lining the walkway, vivid lavenders reached for the dawning sun. Early summer exhaled enough damp air to require a light jacket.

A comforting dove’s coo helped me to focus on inner stillness.

Soon, a crow’s sharp caw disturbed the solitude. I slipped my fingers through my dark hair and pulled strands into spikes. My ex-wife, Lana used to hate this nervous habit of mine.
I slumped back on the bench now, still clinging to Julia’s diary. I received it from her will two weeks ago, but couldn’t bring myself to read her valued words. I usually lived for this type of information, so why hesitate now?

The reason for my apprehension wasn’t buried too deep. I hoped to evade what Julia intended for me to do with her journal. I had researched her mentor, Joshua Cabe, for personal reasons, nothing more. I was a trained journalist—a war correspondent. Writing about a hippie-like modern day prophet did not fit my profile.

In the 1960’s, society experimented with moral relativism. Later, evangelism made a comeback, until politics claimed its rigid dogma to be bigoted. As a result, moral relativism hit big again by the twenty-first century. Over time, scruples of any kind became associated with zealotry and racism. Many religions practiced in obscurity, except for one—a new church movement that claimed to revolve around the philosophy of Joshua Cabe. A man named Tobias Jones was its founder.

Human contact and compassion had diminished, replaced by text messages and video chats. Julia’s diary held revelations from Joshua and could make a profound difference, but who am I to tell his story? I’m forty-two years old, and this would be a complete about-face in my career. I write about heroes of battles, not heroes of peace. I wasn’t even fit to interview Joshua, let alone write about him. And, of all the crazy things to happen to me, I actually met the man sixty years after his death. Again, I can’t help but wonder, why me?

A gust of wind out of nowhere whipped me in the face. My hands tingled beneath the book’s leather bound cover until it grew warm … almost hot to the touch. “Okay, Okay.”

I opened the journal and recognized Julia’s signature in the upper right corner. From there, I flipped through and let it fall to any page.

April 17, 1960

I found Joshua sprawled on the ground in the alley. Blood dribbled from his mouth. Cyrus lay beside him, also beaten badly.

I dropped to the gritty gravel and lifted Joshua’s head onto my lap, my cheeks streaked with tears.

An agonizing groan gurgled in Joshua’s throat, and my breath caught with fright for him.

His head wobbled as he turned toward Cyrus, who whispered, “I’m sorry.”

“You’re effort to save me is your salvation.” Joshua spoke strongly despite his wounds.

I swung my long, dark hair behind me and then stroked his moist face.

A woman’s shriek came from around the corner. Joshua’s mother, Isabella, and his aunt Marta, darted into the alley toward us.

Isabella fell to the grimy earth at her son’s feet…her brown graying bun broke loose on one side.

Marta gasped and cupped a hand over her mouth.

I shouted, “Quick, call for help, Marta.”

She started to move but Joshua spoke up. “No, it’s too late.” He peeked at me through swollen lids, his radiant turquoise eyes now dull and gray. “You and Isabella … take care of each other.”

A death rattle came from Cyrus, and the three of us women wept uncontrollably.

Joshua’s eyes focused at something above my head as if recognizing someone. “Okay, yes. Forgive them.” His lids closed and his head slid down the side of my lap.”

I slapped the book shut, snuffing emotions that tried to surface over the tragic scene.

Julia’s voice whispered in my head, “Messengers of peace are often reluctant.”

I gazed out toward the lake again and knew. The story needed to be told, but not by me. Julia and Tobias would tell the true story of Joshua Cabe.

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36 thoughts on “The True Story of …”

  1. I’m really dense. I read this through three times, and I’m still trying to figure it out. I think the whole point of the narrator’s involvement in the story is that he met Joshua Cabe 60 years after he died. And he died in 1960, so that means the narrator talked to him in 2020, right?

    Another thing I was wondering: Joshua says, “Okay, yes. Forgive them.” Does that mean he was acquiescing about forgiving someone he didn’t really want to forgive?

    Btw, I loved the line, “Lining the walkway, vivid lavenders reached for the dawning sun.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, like I said, it’s a complicated story. The key to the narrator, Max’s, involvement is in this section: “I received it [Julia’s diary] from her will two weeks ago, but couldn’t bring myself to read her valued words. I usually lived for this type of information, so why hesitate now?

      The reason for my apprehension wasn’t buried too deep. I hoped to evade what Julia intended for me to do with her journal. I had researched her mentor, Joshua Cabe, for personal reasons, nothing more. I was a trained journalist—a war correspondent. Writing about a hippie-like modern day prophet did not fit my profile.”

      Max himself doesn’t understand why he was chosen to tell the story of Joshua Cabe. But, Julia’s diary will give him the info about Joshua he needs. The part about him meeting Joshua after his death is meant to be a mystery that will be cleared up in the novel. It may help you to know that this novel will likely go under the genre of magical realism.

      When my writer’s group asked for more info about Max, the narrator, I ended up adding a bunch of history about the man’s life that just seemed like a huge, boring info dump. Do you suggest anything that would help you understand it better that could be brief? I really do appreciate the input. It’s why I posted it. Thanks, Rilla.

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    1. Very cool, James. I like it. That is on my list, and now my list has only two … yours and one other. I’ll see what an editor thinks of them when it’s time to edit. Thank you very much for the suggestion.

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  2. Very well written. However I don’t think someone writing in a personal journal would write in a complex manner. Other than that when can I buy the book?

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    1. Hey Durps. Yeah, I thought about that very same thing with the journal entry. I really wanted to drive home the scene of Joshua’s death though. I’ll have to take a look at it to see if I can tone it down a bit and still show the tragedy of it.

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  3. You really are a good writer, Lori. I read this earlier in the week, but didn’t have time to comment then. I do not think you need any more information in the introduction–otherwise, it may bog the reader down with details. It seems like you want to lure them in and let the details flesh out the story later. The diary part is fascinating. That angle is so often enjoyable for me. Like what Linda said in the comments about following your gut. The more I write it seems like everyone has a different opinion. While it’s probably very helpful to have a writers group, I’m thinking about spiritual advice I heard yesterday: Never abdicate your own authority. Have been pondering that advice. Seems like there’s a fine line between opening to others opinions and abdicating our authority. Am going to ponder this some more. Anyway, thanks for pointing over to this. An enjoyable read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Kathy. Thank you for coming over and commenting on it. I love the thought you shared about not abdicating our authority. I gained so much insight, and have improved my writing so much from this group. I started out so green and amateurish. Now that I’ve improved, it’s very difficult for me to know where to draw the line. Since this is such a complicated plot line, I’ve been concerned about it coming out clear. I really appreciate your input.

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    1. Hey GG, thanks for taking the time to read it and comment. Yeah, at first I wasn’t sure about the diary entry, but then there is something that refers back to it in the first chapter. Hopefully, it’ll all make sense and blend together. I appreciate your input. Have a great weekend.

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  4. I really enjoyed this, intrigued enough to read on and want to know more but satisfied with what I learned from a prologue that I think is a good length. It’s not telling too much of the story, just setting the scene. Very well done 🙂

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    1. Thank you, EllaDee. I went back and forth so many times with either too much info, or not enough. I didn’t know when to stop. I appreciate your input. Have a great weekend.

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  5. I didn’t feel like I needed more information from the prologue. I think the questions raised in my mind are exactly those that lead me to keep reading a book after the first few pages, not the ones resulting from confusion or information overload. Of course, I’ll be a good Libra and also say that you might find, after you’ve written more of the first draft, that you do want to add something more. But that’s only if you think the story would benefit from the additional text at that point.

    I’d say you’re off to a good start with an interesting story and characters.

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    1. I appreciate your input in this, JM. I kept going back and forth from having too much info, to not enough. Didn’t know where to stop adding and subtracting. Seems like I’ll be moving on to following chapters now and then get back to it all when I edit. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Andrea. I was worried either it was too much of an info dump, or not enough. It is quite different, and very difficult to write. I’m up for the challenge though. I appreciate your input.

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  6. I wanted to leave a comment in your poem about the speed likers or should I say hit and run likers but the comment section is already closed. I did not want to press like so instead i am writing
    like, like, like, like….. ad infinitum. I will return and will share your poem in my blog. That is fun post. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there. Yes, thank you for commenting. Andy just discovered my little poem about the hit-and-run likers. I posted that back in December and my comments close after 100 days. I’m glad you liked it. I appreciate you checking out my blog and the nice comments. I decided since I wrote that poem about the ‘like’ button, that I will not visit bloggers who only click like. I will, however, visit bloggers who comment. Thank you, Seeker.

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  7. I,m ready to read on, you have already peaked my interest, You really have a way with words, so beautifully written and with a wonderful story content , you have that special gift , “word pictures”,
    ” The key to communicating high value is in using word pictures” Love you,Mamarie

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    1. Hey Jill. I’ve been going back and forth with adding too much info, to not having enough. I’m glad this worked for you. Thank you for your input.

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    1. Hey Miss M. I’ve been going back and forth from adding too much info, to not having enough. I appreciate your input and positive comment. Blessings to you.

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    1. Hey Linda. I’m so glad you came over to read and comment. I wanted readers comments, because we writers who critique each other can get picky at times. I’m glad you liked it. Thank you for your input.

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  8. And yes they will. I look forward to this guy and the next chapter! Personally I don’t think you need any more information than you’ve provided. You want to keep it moving and it does move. Plus you’re introducing several characters right out of the gate. In that case less is best (at this point). Good luck and glad you shared!

    You said it was going to be a longer post than usual. It was just the right size haha

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    1. Hey Pete. I appreciate your comment. I usually try not to post more than 500 words, but the prologue itself is 760. My concern is either there is too much info, or not enough. I hope I’m not introducing too much either, to where it gets confusing. Thank you so much for your input.

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    1. Hey Carrie. I was struggling with either putting too much info or too little. I’m glad it piques your interest. Thank you for your input.

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