I think you have made great progress in your second draft. I mentioned starting with the sentence: "So it is happening; I am falling in love with an unavailable man." Instead, make that the last sentence of the first paragraph.
I would use your sixth paragraph about how the classroom is set up, Brant's T-shirt and the movement of the tendons in his forearms, and your discreet surveillance (peeking over a book) to establish the situation of a college crush. Tell us you're both seniors, you're both graduating soon, that this is an Argumentative Writing class at the University of Michigan, and it's taught by John, a great teacher who helps his students any way he can, as he will eventually help you. Give us those establishing details which you sometimes overlook. As John would say, "Don't miss the forest for the trees."
Also, get solid on your perspective. You're not writing this for John's writing class anymore. So don't try so hard with the vocab. There are some awkward sentences. "My attraction starts," is a tad cold and calculated. It's not what you'd say to a friend. You'd say, "There's this guy. . . ." Also, "No doubt, even through angry, embarrassed eyes this critique is suggestive," is tough to follow. I had to read it twice. The next sentence -- "His flattery and long stares do not indicate his coupled relationship" -- is also too clinical. He has a girlfriend, and he's hitting on you, for chrissakes. Let your feelings show through your speech.
Which is to say, try talking this instead of writing it. If you were to say, for example, "Brant's got a girlfriend, and he's hitting on me, offering me melt-away smiles and staring with goo-goo eyes. He's on the edge of being unfaithful to his girlfriend, and I should be wary of a guy like this. But since his flirts are for me, I'm not," then I'd feel closer to you and your situation. I'd feel like I was getting to see things from more inside your perspective.
On the other hand, this is not a letter to a friend. This is your attempt to define your experience, and it's a public act since you're publishing it. So you can't be flippant. You have to be sincere about what this means to you, but you don't have to be sentimental or gushy. "He is welcoming and truly friendly," and "It is so endearing," are expressions of a kind of detachment, almost too mature and polite to fit what you must really be feeling. "His words are overshadowed by his expression," "This arrangement allows me to admire him often," "trying to play aloof," "the onslaught of emotion" -- these feel awkward for being too formal. Let go of Henry James and embrace Alison. Your writing will be good not when it has long words and complex sentences, but when the story's smooth and feels like a human being is really struggling to figure things out. Make the private public, but make sure, in that transformation, that what's now public is still you.
The second paragraph, I'd allow your mind to wax philosophic. This is standard procedure in short essays, but it can work. After you've introduced us to the situation in the first paragraph, you can now develop, in two or three sentences, the philosophical dilemma of wanting a committed man. Do you feel obligated to observe some social rule about taken men? Are you prepared to say the hell with it? Is this your main problem? Or is the girlfriend just an obstacle to get through? Do you see things from her point of view? You can't stop your feelings, right? So with what resolution do you decide that it's okay to take the first step and ask him out to a jazz concert at Hill Auditorium? Do you kid yourself that you'll just be friends?
Third paragraph, I'd use the love-at-first-read scene, where you read his critique of your essay on Chopin, and I'd make it a real scene, dramatize it. Where are you? How does the photocopy of your essay, which has been in Brant's possession all week, feel in your hands? Does it smell like him? Like the inside of his gym bag? What is it you imagine about him? After you read his comments on your essay, do you cup your hands around a mug of warm coffee and -- sorry, this is a bludgeon of a metaphor -- "feel the heat"? Show us your reactions and how you feel.
So, after reading his critique, you confide in two close friends, and they persuade you to call him. But how do you tell your friends in the first place? Did one friend put your dilemma in a funny or inspiring way? How did they persuade you? This moment has to turn a passive crush into a moving relationship. For example: "What if he's Mr. Right?" a friend asked you, and you saw the perfect life, complete with two Schnauzers and a minivan, careen over the cliff of your self-restraint. So you resolved to ask him out. But only as friends.
And then you go on to the scene in class where you ask him out. What did you say? What did he say? Where are you and what are you doing? Are you fiddling with a pencil while he leans in closer? When you escape his sudden grasp, do you fling the pencil away, break it, what? Use props to imply or express emotion. You must have been doing something, but you can stretch facts to help your writing get at the truth.
I love the part about how in class one day John asks the students for number three in a list of famous people for a grammar exercise, and your beau blurts "Chopin." That's a great scene, and I feel something. I feel in a real way that, yes, Brant's flirting with you and wants you to know it. There's some kind of connection. It's very nice.
"My ability to play aloof is completely destroyed," however, is a sentence that conflicts with the mood of that scene. What did you really do? How was your detachment destroyed? Did you feel his breath on your neck? Had you been thinking about the topic of your next essay for John, and suddenly, when Brant says, "Chopin," you shiver in your seat and then write, in careful block letters in your notebook, the possible title of your next essay: "Forbidden Love," "Basic Instinct," or something like that. That would tell us, in an action, how Brant made you feel.
So you end up actually writing an essay detailing your conflicted feelings, turn it into John, and then in the stairwell after the following class, John catches up with you to suggest you seize the day and tell Brant how you feel, especially since Brant will be moving out of the state after graduation and you won't likely see him again.
How do you react? What changes your mind? Take us to the scene in the stairwell. What do you see? Are other students filing past? Are you looking down at your feet as you walk beside John down the stairs? Do you slip? Do you groan? John's your friend as well as your teacher, and he can bring out what students are really thinking, so do you shout something? "I know, John, but God!" You're nervous, so your perceptions should be affected by your anxiety. But this is the turning point. We need to be with you when you make this decision.
Then comes the moment when you walk right up to Brant and hand him your essay. Tell and show us how you feel, what you did. Don't be afraid to use the props of everyday life to help you accomplish this. You turned and ran, basically, I know, and even if you didn't then disconnect your apartment phone, linger in a hot bath, and curl up like a fetus on the couch, take a little poetic license to let us experience your moment with you.
Then we're back in class. Yes, get right to the end of it where Brant's leaning against the wall. When he says your essay is the nicest thing he's ever read, put that in actual dialogue. We want to hear him speak, this guy that's invaded your heart.
Now, the ending. He graduates. You said other things happened before that and after that. It's up to you to decide the arc of the story and therefore its scope. Since you started in class, you may want to end it right at the end of that last class. Or you may want to end it with his graduation and some philosophical resolution of yours.
But if you want to include some of the latest developments, your long-distance phone conversations and whatnot, you have to think about how to use them and what they mean. What do you want to say with this essay? You couldn't stop the attraction and you acted on it. With what result? Does that affect what you'll do next time? Are you happy with your choices? Is this a happy ending or an unresolved ending? If unresolved, what do you think about your continuing story and your way of dealing with things?
Above all, don't sell us short on an ending unresolved simply because there's nothing left to report. We want to learn what you learned, or experience what you experienced. If what you learned sounds too gimmicky or phony, like a fairy-tale ending, then you can undercut it with a final sentence that's gritty, real, or ironic.
So you run twice as long the day John tells you he talked to Brant and Brant said he broke up with his girlfriend and is coming back in town and wants your number. That's a nice, happy, feel-good ending. But reality pops in when it takes Brant two weeks to call you. "Typical guy," you think. And now you're not so sure you want him.
That's a funny, unexpected punch-line which may
or may not be true. It implies a few different things: your growth, devaluing
what's now available, simply getting over him, etc. But you don't want
to portray yourself as fickle or overly impressionable. Was it really the
guy that intrigued you, or was it the game of seduction? I leave this call
to you. It's your story.
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