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  • The Hazard – straight out of my head, no edits

    Posted by Rachel Davidson on 17 November 2023 at 12:34

    A title: THE HAZARD

    The scene: a marital argument, (the specific causes for this are in the previous scenes; H, the MC, saw her husband, Geoff, do something with another woman at the house party they’ve been at which she doesn’t understand (not obviously ‘affair’ type behaviour, but on the other hand not ‘safely-married-man’ stuff either). H immediately leaves the party to go home.

    Notes: This scene is in the first quarter of the book – so this is kinda at the end of the ‘status quo’ and beginning of her upward arc (I think! It could change!)

    The storm nightmare is a touchstone moment – it’s the only dream she ever has (or at least remembers having) and it relates to the storm on the night of her birth which swept her village and father away [see previous Friday Feedback posts for more story context].

    It’s real first draft stuff – so I’m not hugely confident that there is a well-polished/thought through emotional arc… but time to post is limited today, so in a penny, in for a pound!

    Hope you guys like it! 🙂



    The dream arrives quickly – my agitated state when I fell asleep, I guess. The storm is the worst I can remember. The wind presses against my chest, leaning upon me and the noise of it; truly a howl. A mournful rise and rise, as the waves lift, higher and higher. I can’t move, though I know what comes next. A slow-motion topple. Down, down, down. I am to be swept away. I wake with a start, and the sight of Geoff silhouetted in the bedroom doorway.

    “Oh, you’re awake.” His downbeat greeting.

    “What time is it?” It comes out as a hoarse whisper. I feel hammered by the nightmare – my chest is tight with the sense there are words stuck in my throat. I cough.

    “I had to leave the car there. Got a taxi home.” He plonks himself down on his side of the bed, starts unloading his wallet, spare change, watch onto the bedside table. A careless clatter, done deliberately. Intended to provoke. Like the beginning rumble of thunder; make me run for cover.

    “Yes. No doubt you did.” This isn’t the correct response, but I don’t know what response ever is. I’ve got lots of other options, more sarcastic responses, angrier ones, accusative ones. But I’m too well trained. I opt for this vaguely passive aggressive one. Intoned with a ‘I don’t really care anymore’. Is that true? I have the feeling I am failing at more than just my marriage vows, that I am failing to join dots, I am failing myself. I don’t know what to do with this feeling.

    “Where do you think you get off, just leaving me there like that?” He stands up, takes off his jeans, turns around to face me and pulls at his jockey shorts, repositioning himself.

    “You’re kidding right?” though I am not surprised he starts there.

    “No.” He chucks his jeans on the floor. “That’s bang out of order.”

    “Is it? Because you didn’t seem to worry about deserting me as soon as your bicycle buffoon buddy called you to heel with your ridiculous nickname.”

    “Is that what this is about, woman? You’re pissed off because I went to talk to a mate?”


    Oh god. I’m getting into it. I don’t want to get into it. It’s a trap, always is. I won’t be heard, seen, understood. I can’t stop myself though. Still hopeful, after all these years? No, merely well trained for this particular dance. “Because you went off and stayed ‘off’. Where did you go? Oh, and for that matter, why didn’t you tell me you knew Helen and Jeremy.”


    “You never said that you knew Helen, my work colleague, the one who invited us to the party, and her husband, Jeremy, whose house it is. I’m reliably informed by another of your bike-buddies that you regularly turn up at that house to be given pit-stop refreshment. Why wouldn’t you tell me this?”

    “Jesus, woman. I didn’t know you didn’t know. No one told me. Calm the fuck down.” He sniffs and walks to the en-suite, leaving the door open as he pees, a spattered fall. Then that weird finishing jiggle, massaging his dick to shake the final drips off. He walks straight back out, wiping the same hand on his pants. “You’ll have to go collect the Merc tomorrow, I’ve made arrangements with the lads to do a 60-miler tomorrow.”

    THE END –

    And that’s it. Discussion over.

    I’m numb, but in a peaceful kind of way. Somehow, I’m different. Like the relief when your back clicks or you get to stop carrying a heavy weight. Normally after an argument I’m so wrangled it takes me hours to fall asleep. But, this is good; I can definitely spend Saturday working on my latest canvas at Henry’s.

    When I fall asleep, the sea is nowhere, gone beyond my horizon

    • This discussion was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by  Rachel Davidson. Reason: formatting issues :)
    • This discussion was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by  Rachel Davidson. Reason: edited to change the shape of Geoff's pee stream (the sentences I get to type nowadays!) thanks to Jonathan's excellent correction and also to rejig the final paragraph to make the emotional change clearer (hopefully!). Trying not to be too perfectionist about these first-draft posts, but it's hard to leave be!! Thanks guys :)
    • This discussion was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by  Rachel Davidson.
    Rachel Davidson replied 6 days, 7 hours ago 25 Members · 49 Replies
  • 49 Replies
  • Sophie Ebeling

    17 November 2023 at 12:50

    I really enjoyed this scene. I’m not married but it feels very natural – the dialogue flows well and I can really picture a married couple having issues like this.

    I particularly liked the line ‘like the relief felt when your back clicks’.

    I think if you’re going to say dick later on (this section made me laugh), then you could say it instead of ‘thing’ earlier? H doesn’t seem like she holds back and wouldn’t be explicit!

    • Rachel Davidson

      17 November 2023 at 13:56

      Hehe Sophie – just back from walking the dogs and I was thinking the same thing about the ‘thing’ and then ‘dick’… It is a discordant note… I did have ‘repositioning himself’… I might go back to that. Can’t have two dicks too close together now can we 😉 Thanks for your kind feedback, much appreciated 🙂

  • bridget king

    17 November 2023 at 13:07

    You’ve captured that knife-edge we married people live on very well. It wasn’t quite clear to me why she found peace at the end, but I expect that’s because I haven’t red the rest. Nice dialogue, very real feeling to the piece.

    • Rachel Davidson

      17 November 2023 at 13:53

      Hey Bridget – ah, good, I’m so pleased you like the dialogue. Tough to get that sounding natural but good in a ‘writerly’ way too!

      Perhaps I do need to make the reason for her peaceful numbness more obvious – I’m not sure I fully understand H’s feeling of calm entirely yet (first draft instincts) if forced to say – she’s been letting go of this marriage for years now, this might be the final let go, there’s something on the horizon that is better… (the upwards arc to the middle-ish of the book)…. I’m edging my way towards it…

      Thanks for commenting, very grateful 🙂

  • Sally Brockway

    17 November 2023 at 13:15

    Hi Rachel,

    Oh, there are some lovely, acute observations here – the rattle of his things, the sight of him peeing, etc, things that really sum up a married relationship. At times, there is a little too much introspection for me, which takes away from the dialogue, and the back and forth between them. Some of this introspection, I think you can have between the lines. It only needs to be pared back a little as what’s here is all great.

    I too am not sure about the change in mood by the end…is it just her relief at having spoken out rather than keeping it all inside?

    Anyway, this sounds like a book for me. Love it!

    • Rachel Davidson

      17 November 2023 at 13:51

      Hi Sally – yes, the introspection levels will definitely be edited and tightened after first draft is completed. It’s a fair point 🙂

      I’m not sure I fully understand H’s feeling of calm yet either (first draft instincts) but at this point if forced to say – she’s been letting go of this marriage for years now, but this might be the final let go, there’s something on the horizon that is better… (the upwards arc to the middle-ish of the book)….

      Thanks for reading and being kind 🙂 Much appreciated.

  • Jonathan Baylis

    17 November 2023 at 13:36

    Hi Rachel,

    Ooh, I didn’t understand the end. Why does she feel numb in a peaceful way? Not just that he won’t be around tomorrow? I’d have thought she’d feel even more aggravated and anxious.

    It’s very readable, with lots of good annoying-man detail. However, if his pee stream formed a noticeable arc he must have been standing feet away from the pan. Implausibly good aim. Then, when the stream weakened he would have had to lurch forward or it would have gone everywhere!

    Why he didn’t tell her he knew Helen and Jeremy is a nice little mystery.

    I feel the middle is more of a build from the start rather than a change. It’s a difficult assignment!


    • Rachel Davidson

      17 November 2023 at 13:50

      Hey Jonathan – hehe, you’re schooling me in the art of man-peeing! I’m very grateful 🙂 You make a good point. Not arc then… another shape. Got it, I’ll make the change.

      I’m not sure I fully understand H’s feeling of calm entirely yet (first draft instincts) but at this point if forced to say – she’s been letting go of this marriage for years now, but this might be the final let go, there’s something on the horizon that is better… (the upwards arc to the middle-ish of the book)….

      There is a reason why Geoff didn’t mention knowing the house… 😉

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Much appreciated.

  • Anthony Balkwill

    17 November 2023 at 15:06

    I feel hammered by the storm is nice … and then there’s more hammering to come. The scene intensifies very effectively. I felt the later dialogue was a bit too wordy. Wouldn’t it be more staccato – or made to feel more staccato by breaks for action? Or observations of reaction to her words?

    • Rachel Davidson

      17 November 2023 at 17:08

      Hi Anthony – thank you 🙂 Yes, you make a good point – when I come to do the edit I could break up some of the dialogue paragraphs with more action/description. Keep it angry and choppy. 🙂 Much obliged.

  • andrewfoot84

    17 November 2023 at 15:54

    Hi Rachel,

    The main problem I have with this is that, by comparison, it makes me feel like my writing is terrible…I love the picture your words paint in the mind. I know some people might say it’s too wordy and in the full context of a novel maybe it is but I personally love the descriptions, the intricacies of how they are feeling and the added drama that brings.

    The change in these sections is good, too, and I think because of the depth of those descriptions I really felt that change along with the characters.

    As I say, I can only speak for myself and I know this is only a small section but I think it’s great.

    • Rachel Davidson

      17 November 2023 at 17:07

      Hey Andrew – you had my heart in my throat reading your first words – oh no, i thought, he has a problem! But then you made my day 🙂 Thank you, that’s very kind of you. I know it is too wordy at the moment – first drafts of an inveterate over-writer (me) always are – but I’m trying not to be in editor mode at the moment, trying to just write. But you loved it anyway – that is a big confidence boost. Thank you 🙂

  • Cynthia MacFarlane

    17 November 2023 at 20:41

    This is such a good picture of a real marriage with its own tensions. They feel unique to these two – the way he wakes her up, the clatter of things on the bedside table, the casual repositioning of himself and peeing with the door open – but also recognizable to a reader. They’re not yelling or throwing things, and somehow, that makes the tension even worse. You can feel that the bond between these two is unravelling. I especially loved how she thought she wasn’t just failing her marriage vows, she was failing to connect dots and failing herself. Beautiful!

    I agree with others who’ve said maybe break up the introspection a little more. I personally like getting her thoughts but maybe with a little more staccato dialogue, you could spread her thoughts out a bit more.

    And of course, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about how of course she feels like she’s in a storm, that she’s failing, because she is slowly learning that she is dead and ready to be ferried onwards by her father! It’s the kind of story that would make me go back and read sections again to see how the author handed that big secret, and here, you’ve handled it really well! Best, Cynthia

    • Rachel Davidson

      18 November 2023 at 12:37

      Hey Cynthia – ah, brought tears to my eyes; so happy and relieved to see how the piece landed with you. Exactly where I was aiming, exactly what I hoped would be picked out of the piece. Joyful to have you repeat my ‘favourite’ (truthful sentences) back at me with what I hoped would be the ‘take-out’. Very grateful, thank you. 🙂

  • Ceresse Gardner

    17 November 2023 at 21:06

    Wow! Rachel, you are remarkably good at first drafts. This is great. Maybe a little tightening is needed but otherwise, it works well at expressing what H is going through.

    The dream clearly explains the emotional upheaval H is experiencing at seeing her husband interact with Helen (maybe change the name… don’t want to confuse it with H’s) at the party. Not sure what she was witnessing.

    Then her husband arrives home and does all those things that most irritate her… on purpose, or is she just more sensitive to his actions in her present state of mind?

    His denial that she didn’t know about him and the boys stopping by Jeremy and Helen’s house.

    What I got from H experiencing a peaceful numbness at the end, is that suddenly, with great relief, she realises she no longer cares if her husband is there or not. She doesn’t have to pander to him, she gets to do her own thing.

    • Rachel Davidson

      18 November 2023 at 12:35

      Hey Ceresse – ah thank you, that means the world to me. I’m an over-writer by nature so am always worried that my first drafts are baggy and aimless. It’s such a boost to hear how you felt about it. You’re spot on with the H’s calmness, what it signifies. 🙂 Very grateful 🙂

  • Fiona Jefferson

    17 November 2023 at 22:59

    Hi Rachel

    I like the start, with the vivid description of the storm dream, where she identifies with the wrecked house – “I am to be swept away” and the neat closing of the scene with the dreamless sleep “the sea is nowhere, gone beyond my horizon”. This works well to reflect the change in H’s emotional state from turbulent to the calm that really feels like the putting down of a heavy weight.

    And the details in between, all the passive-aggressive irritations, and her choice of possible responses, are totally believable. Yes, you could tighten up the dialogue exchange a little, as others have suggested, but wow, awesome first draft!

    • Rachel Davidson

      18 November 2023 at 12:33

      Hi Fiona – ah, thank you. I’m so pleased it’s landing in the way I am aiming for! I know I overwrite in pursuit of the emotion I’m hoping to do a truthful description of. So I’m always really nervous that my first drafts miss the point/feel baggy! Your comments are giving me a boost for sure 🙂 Very grateful

  • Peter Windridge-Smith

    18 November 2023 at 11:53

    Hi Rachel,

    The scene has a clear arc from storm to calm which is nicely bookended by the dreams. I liked the dialogue and the internal thoughts seemed realistic to me.

    I think everyone’s marriage and way of arguing is different but to me this very much captured the feeling that if this is the way they argue then no wonder they’re having problems. There seems very little caring on either side.

    • Rachel Davidson

      18 November 2023 at 12:31

      Hey Peter – thank you for those comments – yes, that is exactly what I am hoping to portray. I’m very pleased you ‘felt’ it 🙂 Much obliged 🙂

  • Julie Ford

    18 November 2023 at 13:58

    Hi Rachel

    I enjoyed reading this. As a veteran of a few late-night arguments, I found it very believable. I was surprised that H managed to get to sleep before her husband returned. They will now lie with their backs turned on each other, perhaps subtly fighting over the duvet.

    I loved her disparaging description of his peeing, and the way he puts her down by calling her *woman*. Swearing at her is a bit extreme.

    I am not sure I would have come down quite so quickly, but H seems to be planning her revenge. This is not over!

    Great writing, as usual.

    • Rachel Davidson

      18 November 2023 at 18:24

      Hey Julie – ah, thank you 🙂 Yes, I too would mither over such an argument and not get to sleep easily… but things are changing for H. She’s only just cottoning on to this herself 🙂

      Thank you for commenting, confidence boost received 🙂

  • Katrin Feldhus-O’Connell

    18 November 2023 at 15:19

    Hi Rachel, you describe the ‘dance’ very well in this scene. It explains H’s existential crisis and desire to be seen. She is not like this by nature but nurture – at least that’s what I’m getting from this scene.

    I wonder what the shift is – her husband’s pee stream and dirty façade suddenly becoming more noticeable? I think it’s possible that the scene she witnessed at the party earlier has changed her focus, which changed her perception.

    I like how the scene ends with a thought about painting and falling asleep easily.

    Overall it feels real and reads well already!

    Well, and I now wonder how I’d describe a man’s pee stream…😯😆

    • Rachel Davidson

      18 November 2023 at 18:27

      Hey Katrin – yeah, how would you describe a man’s pee-stream?? I was very grateful to Jonathan for pointing out the mechanical mistake I’d made with ‘perfect arc’ – so in order to get it right I then phoned my husband at his work and asked him to describe the line of pee to me. Oh yes I did! The things we authors look up/ask people, heh! 😀

      Thanks for liking the piece, I’m very grateful 🙂

  • Emma Mckay

    19 November 2023 at 07:59

    Hi Rachel,

    I love your writing as usual and like the whole idea of this scene and the emotional movement within it.

    I know it’s a first draft (way better than my first drafts!) but to me the dialogue feels a little over-written for two reasons – one because they’re married and would have their own shorthand and two because it’s late/he’s been drinking. For example, when you mention her colleague’s name and her husband’s. It feels a bit like you’re explaining the context to us the readers.

    Does that make sense? Perhaps it’s just me?

    • Rachel Davidson

      19 November 2023 at 11:21

      Hey Emma – thank you. Yes, it’s highly likely I am guilty of putting in ‘placeholder’ text that is more about me remembering where I am, where I’m headed etc. etc. It’s the sort of thing I’ve learnt about my first-drafting and will look out for in the edit phases.

      There is *some* characterisation in H’s ‘verbosity’ in these moments – she has an analytical, pseudo-legalistic day job and so does have a habit of getting a bit ‘I put it to the honourable witness…‘ style to her language when dealing with confrontation. She also likes to ‘best’ Geoff in this way too – because he is not as eloquent as her – it’s her form of attack. 🙂

      But I take your valid point that there’s polishing and economy to carve into the later drafts. Thank you, much appreciated 🙂

  • Paul Hayes

    19 November 2023 at 11:39

    Hi, Rachel,

    Geoff is awful. I hope he cycles off a cliff. Seriously, anyone who addresses their partner as ‘woman’ eughh.

    However, it creates sympathy for the MC, and I really like the metaphor of the storm as a recurring dream.

    This is good and I think the arc works.



    • Rachel Davidson

      19 November 2023 at 12:55

      Hey Paul – hehe, Geoff is ‘ick’ 🙂 Thank you 🙂 Much appreciated… Off to check if I’ve seen your post this week… 🙂

  • joanne-mcclean McClean

    19 November 2023 at 15:09

    Hi I like the way your MC is constantly analysing her own thoughts, emotions, responses. The contrasts between what she says and what she thinks helps to create interest and build the tension. And you paint a picture of a very unpleasant MAMIL, obsessed with his lads’ bike rides! I like the detail of the provocative clatter of wallet etc, but wonder if the word ‘careless’ was deliberate (the action was done deliberately ie <font face=”inherit”>with care, so you’ve created an oxymoron) If it wasn’t </font>deliberate<font face=”inherit”> p</font>erhaps<font face=”inherit”> you could say ‘seemingly careless.’ I like the way you use the </font>storm<font face=”inherit”> imagery – this is his warning rumble of thunder.</font>

    • Rachel Davidson

      20 November 2023 at 13:23

      Hi Joanne – ah, now that is an interesting little stitch to pick up on… yes, do I mean careless..? Hmmm. Excellent food for thought, thank you for that, much appreciated 🙂

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