NaNoWriMo – Beauty in the Remnants – Excerpt

So, I was going to start off this post by saying I don’t know if I’ll “win” NaNo this year, but then my friend asked me for my current word count and I realized I’m actually a little ahead of schedule. Huh. Wonders never cease.

Anyway, as promised, here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of the book, tentatively titled Beauty in the Remnants.

Remember, this is a rough draft and may not represent the final product, but hopefully it’ll give you a good peek into what these two men are like.

I’m experimenting with dual first-person POVs, btw. We’ll see if it works out or not!

Enjoy, and feel free to comment!


Hot guy across the room smiles. Lifts his finger to beckon me. Then . . . wait for it . . . sees my crutch, hooked on the bar counter, and his smile falters. He deftly shifts the gesture to his head, combing through his hair. Smooth save. Now he looks apologetic. Mouths a “sorry” with . . . yep, there it is, the “can you blame me?” shrug, before turning back toward the dance floor.

Another strikeout.

I sigh reflexively, down half my drink, wishing it were vodka instead of Sprite. It’s late. Probably after midnight, though I resist the urge to check my watch. I need to be in the lab by seven AM, but before I can signal to the bartender to close out my tab I spot him. Across the bar. I can’t see his face; he’s standing at one of the chest-high tables, drinking with a petite thing the word “twink” doesn’t do justice to. A fairy in pink and glitter. The other man, though, from what I can see, is delicious. Tall, slim, but fills out those skinny jeans like they were made for him, his muscular thighs and ass tensing as he shifts his weight. And the black wife beater he’s wearing shows off tats on his shoulders and neck, inching toward mid-bicep, as if stretching inky tendrils across his skin. I’m not much for tattooed guys normally, but something about him makes me wish he were alone. Not that I’d probably have a chance with him.

Shocking, but if the crutch and the limp aren’t a big enough turn off, the braces are an instant mood killer nearly every time. Apparently, outside an S&M club, it turns out leather and metal? Not so hot after all.

Nine times out of ten, if I find a guy who’s willing to overlook the fact that I can’t dance (in the very literal sense), as soon as they get my pants partially off and see the full-leg braces I need to stay upright, looking to the untrained eye very much like something out of the 1940s Polio epidemics, they immediately back pedal. It’s frustrating as fuck, but it’s the story of my life.

So I look for that tenth guy.

Some nights I find him; some nights, like tonight, I go home with blue balls.

Once, just to see if it’d affect my luck, I left the braces and crutch at home and wheeled into the bar instead. It was one of the few times since college I bothered with the chair in public, and I’d forgotten how annoying being at crotch level can be, even if the view is nice.

I found a guy to take to the back room, and I’ll admit, making out with him in my lap was hot. But it was a little creepy how turned on he was by my wheelchair, seemingly more than my cock.

I thanked him for the sex, agreed to call him, and promptly “lost” his number.

So, yeah. I’ll hold out for number ten.

I’m shoving bills at the bartender when some twink catches my eye. He’s leaning suggestively on the bar, ass in the air. He turns and grins at me, pushing dyed blond curls out of his eyes. He’s honestly not my type, but I can’t really afford to be choosy. I raise a suggestive eyebrow, smiling as he ambles closer. But my hip’s starting to ache, and I’m really not in the mood for games.

I slide my crutch over, so it’s in plain sight, a challenge. Let’s cut to the chase.

The twink, who’s sporting a fake tan and clothes that look spray painted on his gym-membership body, frowns. A deeply etched expression that’s almost comical. I have to hold my breath to conceal a laugh.

I’m waiting for what usually follows. The sad eyes, the down-turned lips, the “your mother just died and I didn’t really know her, but I’m sorry for your loss” look. I fucking hate that look, but my balls hurt so bad right now I’ll settle for the one-time pity fuck if that’s all I’m going to get. It beats going home and, well, beating it. Alone. Again. This week, my luck hasn’t been so good.

“What happened?” he asks instead, his face genuinely concerned, his full lips pouting. Lips I’d like to see wrapped around my cock in under five minutes. Twink sits on the stool next to me just as the bartender sets a frilly, brightly colored drink in front of him. Figures.

“Car accident,” I say simply, debating ordering a bourbon, even though I know I shouldn’t.

“I’m sorry,” he says, laying a hand on mine.  I’m shocked, when I meet his eyes, to see they’re soft, sincere. Not the society-dictated mask of faux sympathy.

I shrug. “It was a long time ago.” Seventeen years this week, I think.

He purses his lips, leaning in, sliding a palm on my right thigh. I can’t feel it, but I imagine he must sense the strap of my brace beneath my pants, and I–well–brace myself for the reflexive jerk away. Happens 70% of the time. Plus or minus a standard deviation.

His face registers surprise, but he doesn’t pull back, and though I still can’t feel his touch, blood rushes to my cock at the possibility that I may have found my number ten.

“So . . . does everything work . . . ?” he asks, easing his hand toward my crotch, making my breath catch. My cock answers for me as a grin spreads across his face. “Why do you need a crutch when you’ve got a third leg?” He teases, stroking me through my clothes. It’s corny as hell, but it’s still a compliment. I am longer and thicker than average, but few guys quite get this far. I’m suppressing a moan. He keeps this up and I’m so backed up, I’ll come in my pants like a fucking teenager.

“It tastes a hell of a lot better than my other legs,” I say, my voice lower than normal, keeping his corny line, stifling an eye roll. “Want to find out?”

His grin broadens, and he catches his bottom lip between his teeth. “Fuck yeah.”


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12 Responses to NaNoWriMo – Beauty in the Remnants – Excerpt

  1. John says:

    Someone forwarded me this link as an example of why women shouldn’t ever write slash fiction. Most women, this author included, suck at writing gay men. It just sounds like it’s written by a woman.

    • Chie Alemán says:

      I’m sorry you feel that way. It’s from a very early draft, and my plan is to have several of my male friends (gay and straight) read it once I have a draft complete so I can hone it and make it more realistic.

      I do agree that generally women don’t write gay men well, but I don’t think that means it can’t be done. Does that also mean that men can never write women?

      • John says:

        First off, I apologize for being harsh in my last comment. You hit on one of my pet peeves and that was my knee-jerk response. I should have been more constructive.

        It’s obviously possible to write a character that’s fundamentally different from yourself, but I’ve only seen this done well by experienced, professional writers. When amateurs attempt to stray too far from writing what they know, the results are usually painfully bad. You said yourself that you’re going to get help from your gay male friends to hone the writing–and therein lies the problem. If you need information to fill in plot details, that’s one thing, but if you feel you need input to make the narrator’s voice realistic, that’s a big problem. That’s why I always teach my students to write what they know, at least in the beginning. Once you get that down pat, you can consider experimenting. Obviously, whether this advice will be heeded is contingent on the author’s desire to create good writing, and not internet drivel.

        Struggling with an unfamiliar POV is such a common theme for amateur writers that I actually happened to give a lecture today on common missteps in developing a character’s voice, which is why someone led me to your story in the first place. It did provide a couple of examples for my lecture, so I appreciate that.

        Good luck!

        • Chie Alemán says:

          I don’t really consider myself an amateur, and I do agree that it’s generally safe to “write what you know” – but at the same time, you can’t be afraid to try new things, otherwise you can never grow as a writer.

          I always have my work read by different people – and as a woman, I always like to get the male input on my male characters. In fact, I generally try to get a wide audience to do my beta reading so I can see how people with different perspectives and life experiences perceive the work, and in this case, it would be no different.

          I don’t think there’s anything wrong for having beta readers’ input on the “realism” of your narrator’s voice. I don’t think it’s a matter of confidence, it’s a matter of them pointing out things you might not see yourself, the same thing as anything else, such as plot holes or whatever.

          It’s not like I would write a chapter, show it to a friend, and say “Hey, does this sound realistic to you?” I’m talking about once you have a complete draft, you have someone look at it and give their feedback on what might be working and what might not be working, and the voice is part of it.

          • John says:

            An amateur is, by definition, “a person who engages in a pursuit, esp. a sport, on an unpaid basis.” Where can I purchase your publications if you write fiction professionally?

        • Chie Alemán says:

          Firstly, to presume that you know everything about my writing career from one facet of my online presence (this pen name) is naive.

          Secondly, the context of your reply, to me, held the usage of the word “amateur” in this, other, meaning of the word: “a person inexperienced or unskilled in a particular activity.”

          Thirdly, my first book under this pen name is in the process of being published, and you will be able to purchase it as soon as it is available for sale.

          • John says:

            If you don’t know the definition of the word “amateur” that’s not my problem. I just glanced at the writing tab on this website and nothing appeared to be published.

            Look, I’m not trying to hurt your feelings, just to make a point. I’ll try one final time.

            Say a skinny, 6’2″ 25-year-old man watched Bridget Jones with his girlfriend. He liked the movie and, being a decent writer, decided he was going to write a book from the perspective of an overweight 30-something woman who was looking for love. Then say you came across his story on the internet. Do you think it’s likely it would be a good story that really showed an understanding of what it’s like to be that woman? Or would you feel a little offended by the audacity of what would almost certainly be an awkward, misplaced attempt to get into the head of a person he doesn’t understand at all?

            That’s how I felt, as a gay man, when I read your story.

            I have nothing left to add.

  2. He110Ne0 says:

    I’d have been curious to see what this professor’s reasons were for saying the voice was off. I’m not a professional writer, but I am an avid reader and in terms of the dollars that go out of my wallet, I guess that makes it sort of “professional.” Even better, I almost never read M/M romance, either. What I just read in this excerpt, however, was not terrible. It certainly doesn’t warrant any knee jerk reactions.

    My constructive criticisms – which I give first and foremost because I’m an adult and people on the other side of the screen are human beings that are trying to chip away at this rock called life just like everyone else is not faceless punching bags for your bad-day-at-work venting – are as follows:

    A) Marshall –
    I really like Marshall’s voice. It’s possessed with a facade of “don’t care” but has an undercurrent of wanting to be just like everyone else regardless. This definitely comes through. We can tell he’s a fighter since he is looking for that 1/10 chance and doesn’t call it a “one in 10 chance” but a “10th guy.” That right there gives you the idea he’s a glass half full kind of guy. His bluntness about what he wants from the men he’s attracted to is right up there with what I’ve heard men – gay and hetero – say in regular conversation with me (and I’m a woman, so you’d think I’d be spared the gory details for propriety sake but what the hell is that anymore). Add some liquor to those thought processes and a bar scene where people WANT to hookup? Boom.

    The one line of Marshall that struck me as too flowery was describing the tattoo as “inky tendrils across his skin.” Sorry gentlemen. I love you, but ya just don’t talk like that when you’re thinking about getting a blow job.

    B) Mike –

    I have a harder time with this voice. This one sounds much more “female” in my head. It might be because its far more descriptive and less self-centered than Marshall, but the pining for the ex and the annoyance with the flamboyant friend – it just felt like overhearing a conversation between frat girls. This isn’t to say men can’t pine, and that gay men don’t have flamboyant friends they’re annoyed with, it just sounded feminine.

    However, this does give insight into Mike’s differences from Marshall. Marshall talks a lot about himself and talks in short, clipped sentences. This keeps us from hearing too much emotion and lets us know hes alive because he talks very graphically about the sex he wants. Mike on the other hand spends a lot of his narration describing how much Leo frustrates him. While this is still written in 1st person, I feel like it’s more a study of Leo than Mike. Aside from Leo’s outspokenness, I’d know nothing about Mike, and I think therein lies the problem. I KNOW why Marshall is waiting for his 10th guy, I have no idea why Mike hates being called beautiful – and even though this is an excerpt their given the same page time.

    I refuse to critique this as a purveyor of M/M erotica because I’m not, and I don’t think it should be critiqued that way because this is clearly not written to be simply porn in ink. If it was it would start out more like “Mike was fucking Marshall until he he was sure he would forget his own name.” This is trying to develop characters and therefore is about two HUMAN BEINGS. I think Marshall has a definite voice, Mike’s needs to be fine tuned, but has a frame work, and should be veered more into the realm of masculinity.

    This is FAR from trash or internet drivel. This is better than a lot of vampire romance novels that proclaim to be historical fiction that I almost vomit reading the samples from. I’m very picky when it comes to reading because I don’t like having my time wasted and I tend to think I’m pretty intelligent. I’d like to know where John teaches because I think his lecture that day probably wasn’t that constructive. Also I doubt he’s urging his writing students to stray outside their comfort zones and probably has a lot of girls simply narrating their own breakups with names changed to protect identity.

    As a reader who is gagging on formulaic writing out here, I can only guess at how many lectures prescribe the same advice.

    • Chie Alemán says:

      Thank you! That is excellent feedback. As I’ve worked on the draft, I definitely felt like Marshall had the stronger voice of the two men (though I originally had intended the book to be from Mike’s POV, I ended up thinking of doing it strictly from Marshall’s, before going for both)… And definitely feel like I’m still “finding” Mike’s voice. As for him being more “female” – well, that is kind of intentional, as I’m taking inspiration from one guy I know who everyone jokingly says he is “such a girl” lol. But yeah, I’m still refining his voice… But I will definitely take some of your points (like making his section work harder) to heart. Thank you :).

    • John says:

      ” a lot of girls simply narrating their own breakups with names changed to protect identity. ”

      Untrue. Also, this is incredibly insulting to female writers and women in general. What else could women have to write about from personal experience aside from breakups, right?

      • He110Ne0 says:

        “What else could women have to write about from personal experience aside from breakups, right?”

        They have a lot to write about – which is why I’d like to see them step outside the comfort zones and explore it.

        A LOT of college girls…and I did not say ALL, just A LOT…spend a lot of time writing emo prose about breakups or turning their ex’s or currents into villains and/or all encompassing objects of passion. This isn’t an insult to their intelligence, it’s just because ITS EASY. It’s easy because they’re writing what they know and it flows out of you and its good for one or two stories. My point was that they get stuck there and when they have to step outside the box – they don’t.

        As for your comment re:Bridget Jones & a guy trying to write it – why is his gender important? It’s his writing talent that would shine or falter. If you know even the slightest bit about BDSM you would know that 50 Shades of Grey is a disgusting and inaccurate depiction of the fetish and basically outlines mentally abusive behavior instead of erotica – that was written by an adult woman w/a female POV, but the stupidity of the main character speaks to the voice of a 13 year old who saw a porn she didn’t understand. On the other hand, you could read Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne – a recent detective/thriller story written by a man with a female POV that is quite excellently done.

        As a gay man, John, I would never tell you your writing of a hetero sex scene was horrible because you’re gay. I would tell you it needed work because it was bad. Or vice-versa if it was great, would I even bother asking your sexual preference? No, because it would be irrelevant. Honestly, comments on a piece of writing should consist of a critique, which you have yet to do. Knee jerk reactions aren’t constructive to anyone. If you are a professor, you should know that.

        That’s all I have to add to this.
        (Full disclosure – I do not know this author personally, only via Twitter connections. I fully read several of her rough draft excerpts before writing this critique because I wanted a full picture of her writing ability as I perceived it through the eyes of an intelligent consumer.)

  3. John says:

    You completely missed my point and continue to be incredibly sexist. Do you honestly believe that most women have absolutely no experiences in their entire lives worth writing about aside from breaking up with their boyfriends? Part of what I do is to help people realize how rich with experiences their lives actually are.

    It’s not worth my time to critique this. I gave her a piece of advice based on over a decade of experience teaching people how to improve their writing. If she chooses not to listen and simply whine that I’m being mean, that’s her business.

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