DISCLAIMER: Welcome Home is not a real motion picture nor does it have a soundtrack coming out. This is just me living in my fictional happy writer’s world. Where I pretend and where I run the show. Haha. Back in college whenever I would hand in a script or be working with already written material/feature film scenes, my professor would ask me who I would have play the characters, where would it take place, what location? And so I think that kind of stuck with me, because as I write each of my short story series here on this blog, I want to include those aspects and give you a visual experience. Mysterious Attraction was my first shot at it, A Broken Heart For Christmas, and Love Conflicted followed, and most recently On The Run.
As a kid I used to say “Make Pretend” all the time. Make Pretend you’re a princess who slays dragons. Make pretend you’re a ballerina who bull rides. Make pretend you’re writing a screenplay and you get to pick the actors, and release a soundtrack and commentary that people have been anxiously awaiting. The options could be endless. So let’s “Make Pretend.” Enjoy!
I just re-read Welcome Home, in preparation for this post, and I have to admit, I was really happy with this short story series. It felt more structured and concise.
Welcome Home premiered on Thursday, December 15th, 2016. It was a small string of random thoughts and characters I just had to get out! The story continued pretty consistently until Thursday, March 16th. Overall the story was featured on Thursdays here on michelle leigh writes for a span of about 3 months.
OFFICAL FULL CAST PROMOTIONAL PHOTO RELEASED 😉
Melanie Evans portrayed by Shantel VanSanten
I fell in love with Shantel when she played Quinn James on One Tree Hill. I think she had this purity about her acting and she is such a natural beauty. She also does sassy comedy really well too. I really thought she would bring someone like my character Melanie to life.
Oliver King portrayed by Jason Thompson
I don’t know where to start with this guy. I adore him. I fell in love with Jason when he played Dr. Patrick Drake alongside love interest Dr. Robin Scorpio (Turned Drake) on General Hospital. He is such a brilliant actor, I am still flabbergasted that he hasn’t won an Emmy yet. He puts his heart out there and he is so believable. Put him in a scene with anyone and you can see how he elevates the material in his acting choices. How he interacts with them, and uses his body language to convey a believable relationship. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve rewatched him and Kimberly McCullough’s (Robin) many scenes together from General Hospital as they displayed quite the love story. So freaking amazing!
Cassie portrayed by Hilary Duff
Hilary Duff, what can I say? Loved her since Lizzie McGuire. And that show basically shaped my childhood. She was one of my idols growing up. And she holds such a special place in my heart. She has grown into such an incredible feisty actress and you can tell that she’s done so in a really classy way. The way she handles the more mature topics of life on her new hit show Younger with comedy and sass, is just so damn good. So I knew that she could be the perfect face for Cassie- the sassy, bold, tell it like it is best friend. You know me and how my best friend roles are always sassy!
Dave portrayed by Derek Hough
I had Duff in my head and I knew Cassie would soon need a love interest too and in pairing her with someone, Hough seemed like such perfect fit visually. I love Derek Hough, I have swooned over him on Dancing with the Stars so many times. I’m sad he’s not on this season. He is such a huge talent and inspiration. I would love to see him featured in more films throughout his career! Hey Derek- I’ll have my people call your people! 😉
Molly King portrayed by Brooklyn Rae Silzer
This kind of happened by accident. If you know Jason Thompson as Patrick Drake, then you know that he and Robin have a daughter named Emma. Brooklyn plays the role of Emma. And when it came to editing pictures of a child with Thompson and Van Santen, I just thought it seemed completely obvious to have Brooklyn be viewed as Melanie and Oliver’s daughter Molly. She is such big talent! She is sassy and sweet and is sure to grow up to be a huge name! Just like McCullough did! She started her career as a kid on General Hospital.
Aspects I Really Liked:
Reading it back, I was really happy with the way there was some foreshadowing and reveals throughout the story’s unfolding.
Throughout the whole first few chapters you don’t know what happened between Melanie and Oliver. We never know why they broke up. We know they were engaged, we know they had a past and that they haven’t really seen or spoken to each other in a few years. I like how it keeps you guessing, until he says it- they loss their baby.
I also like how you don’t really know if she’s pregnant again, you expect it, but then she looks at the test and cries at the end of the chapter which can make it go either way. And then at the beginning of the following chapter we start with a funeral type scene and it makes you think she lost another child. Soon you find out it was a flashback to Cody’s memorial. And then we time jump into a new life with Melanie and Oliver and their new baby girl.
I think the foreshadowing worked nicely and kept the suspense going. I’ve said it many times, I write these short story series as if they were a movie, and so these types of foreshadowing, flashbacks, jump cuts would work well I think.
I also thought that I was able to portray bits of their lives, pasts, careers, etc, throughout the story. So often I feel like you have to give it all in the beginning, but I realized that doesn’t work either. You have to disperse the information little by little, when needed. So what I tried to do this series is implement backstory when it made most sense. For example, through conversations we find out that Melanie is a writer and Oliver is a photographer. Melanie’s writing has suffered since her tragedy so we don’t see her writing. Oliver is said to be snapping pictures now and then. I don’t think these things have to be super prominent as long as there are mentions, we get the gist. The story is bigger than this.
We also find out how they met in college through Oliver’s best man and Melanie’s maid of honor speeches. I really love that story Oliver tells, it serves a lot of purpose to the story, and to the relationships within it- Cassie/Dave and Oliver/Melanie. I love love love it! You can just see the scene of how they all met play out in your head.
I really love how we finally get the story of how Melanie and Oliver broke up, as she reads the first passage of her book “Operation Forever,” at her first book signing. We never really knew how she left, and this was my way of answering that question without actually having to force a flashback. Her book title, is a bit of an Easter egg and ode to their little discussion when they got engaged.
“I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel real, ya know. To be this in love.” She says smiling brightly up at him through watery eyes.
“Yea I know the feeling. I guess we’re just going to have to get used to the fact that we’re stuck with each other, forever. It’s all a part of my evil plan.”
“Ah, I see. Operation forever.”
“Something like that. But I’m sure we could think of a better name than that.”
“What- why I like it.”
“Well if you like it, then I like it.”
Flashbacks however are utilized when needed, and they are brought on by familiar moments-déjà vu, or scenery from her home town. The first Chapter we see her have a flashback to she and Oliver in their own apartment, engaged, during happier times. And it is brought on by watching her reflection as she puts on some lip-gloss- a menial task she’s done many times in front of him as he would watch and admire.
Then throughout her home coming she is catapulted into many memories, memories she’s tried to stay away from. She sees their names carved in her front porch, and remembers the first time he told her he loved her and that he wants to be with her forever. At home in her living room, in front of the fireplace, she has a flashback of them making love, walking through town she sits in the gazebo and remembers when he asked her to marry him. All of these things make her feel and in turn make us feel because we see how much these two people love each other. And how painful it is for them to not be together. But I also really love that these flashbacks were placed well, within reason, and were brought on by her familiar surroundings.
Through more conversations we see how close they really wore, how they had the same friends, how her family took him in and welcomed him on school breaks, how he knew her bedroom pretty well and they “broke some house rules” every now and then as teens. 😉 Oliver even makes mention to the fact that he will “crawl into her window” at night if he has too, which makes us realize this was something he may or may not have done as a young teen in love. Oliver bakes her, her favorite sugar cookies and knows her obsession with New Kids On The Block. He knows her mom’s cooking and how they go all out for holidays. There is so much history there between these two and you don’t have to see their whole relationship to know that.
This is something I revisit this dialogue exchange a lot throughout the story, and their relationship. A lot of the times it’s Melanie who catches Oliver watching her and says What? And in turn he says Nothing. It’s a bit of a flirtation and a cute game for them. And it resurfaces a few times between them. Even at the end, when it’s reversed and Oliver realizes how annoying it can actually be. Lol.
Speaking of Holidays, I think I was inspired by them when I wrote this. I had written a good portion of the first chapter or so, before I posted and so I was in a family holiday mood. So I took that inspiration and the holidays kind of built my timeline. We Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. There are certainly time jumps in here too, but I think that’s only natural, for this kind of coming home, and coming into your own skin story. We need to jump around so we can see the characters grow and learn to better themselves.
I also think utilizing the slideshow feature in the last chapter was my way of showing their lives together and the things you missed. (Yes, I know some of my edits are super crappy and bad, but I tried, haha.) This tactic helped me fill in some blanks. In my head I just saw the scene playing as if it were in a movie- a time jump and then a happy family at home, as you see pictures of their lives together dress their walls. Their child growing throughout the years along with their love. Notice most of the pictures look professional, because you know Oliver King was like Um excuse I will be taking all my daughter’s professional pictures, thank you. Haha. Did you spot those Paris pics? – Another little Easter egg to show he actually took her like he wanted to.
“God I’ve missed this town.” Oliver says smiling looking around.
“Missed it? I thought that you were living here?”
“I was. For a long time. I still have a place here. But work kinda takes me all around nowadays. I’m kind of a nomad.”
“I see. Traveling must be nice though.”
“It is. It’s really amazing Mel. I’ve been to Ireland, Italy, and France, I stayed at this little bed and breakfast in Paris, the couple that ran it were two of the sweetest people, and every morning they would make me blueberry waffles, sausage and bacon. And my room, it overlooked this little lake, it was breathtaking. You would have loved it.”
“I’m sure I would have,” she says smiling up at him.
“Maybe one of these days, you’ll let me take you there.”
“Maybe.” She says looking away, fidgeting with the cup in her hands.
“Always forgetting your gloves.” He says noticing and smirking at her.
Within the slideshow we also see an image of Baby Boy Cody’s sonogram which means he is still part of them and their family which was important for me to show, because that loss was such a big part of their lives, their love and this story. And I love that they each have Cody tattoos, they got separately, to honor their son. It shows they think alike.
I back tracked and looked at what I wrote for my last short story series- On The Run, and when it came to writing love scenes, this is what I wrote… [One of these days, I won’t blush while writing a love scene. I won’t hide in a corner shielding my computer screen from curious eyes. I won’t feel ashamed of what I’m writing. I find that when I write a love scene, I continuously edit myself. What if a family member of mine reads this? Oh my god what will they think? The people in my life have a certain perspective of me. I’m a pretty reserved personality, and so writing these scenes would be something they wouldn’t even think I do, or can do. So there’s a barrier there for sure and I feel like I need to work on being more free and not so constrained and worried about what people will think. If anything hopefully they can just realize that what I’m trying to do by writing these scenes, is to craft a beautiful love story.] In many ways this still applies, I need to work on this and I definitely still edited myself a lot this series. I had written much more juicer material, but I wanted it to read with a certain tenderness and I felt that would get lost in the lust factor, so I edited it. However, I do still think I am getting better at writing love scenes, because even reading the love scene back today, I was surprised I left certain things in. With that being said though, I still think it reads the way I wanted it to be read, a couple so in love they can’t contain it. I don’t think it reached a trashy point.
Coming Home/Finding Home, Family, Friendship, Hope, Loyalty, Heart, Unconditional Love, Forever, Fear, Creativity, Soulmates, Heart vs. Head, Overcoming Obstacles, Tragedy.
As you read this series any of these themes can pop into your mind, Melanie is so torn. She has the whole world at her feet, family and friends waiting to support her, her dream career in her grasp, a man so in love with her he’d wait forever for her, but yet the heartache of losing her child years ago force her into a stubborn isolation. She had a lot of soul searching to do, that unfortunately she needed to do on her own.
Oliver is her ray of light, her hope, he loves her unconditionally and he is not willing to let her sit in that dark black hole of isolation for too long. However, you can see that he knows how he has to play this. He can’t just pounce. She’s already used to running, and she will continue if anyone makes any sudden movements. So you see him pull back here and there. He knows when she needs to walk away. And it baffles Melanie that he could be that understanding. He’s pretty perfect. But not without his faults, he is human. There are moments where you see him falter. We see him not be so understanding, but in the same breath he takes on the blame, so that she doesn’t have to, and even then Melanie pulls away because she can’t comprehend his unwavering love.
It isn’t until he backs off completely that she realizes she needs him. When she finds out she is pregnant with another one of their children. And when she actually chooses to include him in what is going on. Once she finally admits she needs him not only to him, but to herself, the whole story kind of becomes well rounded. Things are full circle and all the stress is forgotten as they embark on their journey together. Because he was never going to give up on her, he just needed her to come to him.
Friendship is always a factor in my stories, there are always the supporting roles- the best friends, because I think our main characters need somewhere to go and vent. I think I would have liked to explore some more conversations between Oliver and Dave. Now that I think about it I’m sure Oliver would vent at times. How could he not! Melanie drove him crazy! And Dave was part of the whole reason why Melanie and Oliver met in the first place, he knew their story. I think friendship is always such a strong consistent theme in my stories, because it’s a strong theme in my life. I have a core group of friends who I go to with everything. I have a best friend, I’ve known since kindergarten, hence the childhood best friend inspiration. #CassieAndMelanie.
I feel like it’s easy to relate to both Oliver and Melanie. There’s a push and pull between them. They have so much love and attraction between them. And unlike my last short story series On The Run, these two didn’t just meet, they’ve known each other for many years. They have a really heavy past and they know things about each other that form a very sexy, real, loyal bond.
It’s easy to hate on Melanie, I think. She left. She ran. And continues to do so for the better part of the series. She wasn’t there for the man she loved. When he obviously continuously put her first. It’s definitely a frustrating concept. She even lets Oliver think they are getting back together after what happened between them on Christmas. But there is this really complex nature about her that I hope is displayed to the audience. I wanted her to be conflicted. She didn’t run because of Oliver, she ran because of herself. Because she wasn’t herself. Because she was worried she wouldn’t be able to give him what he deserved; a family. She knows what she’s doing, she knows she’s hurting him- she admits it, but she can’t help it, because of the pain that weighs on her heart.
So in that sense, I feel like you can put yourself in her shoes, and understand why she has been acting the way she has. It’s not that she doesn’t love him. She does, but she’s caught between that and her pain. She pushes him away because she can’t handle reliving it.
Oliver has a really beautiful evolution I think. I really love his character. And I think if this were ever made into a real short film, Jason Thompson would kill this role! There’s this intense vulnerability in Oliver. He loves with everything in him. He’s made up his mind about Melanie a long time ago, it’s just he’s waiting to make his moves.
“You’re my forever, plain and simple.”
He lets her run, he lets her have her time. But he is always there if she needs him… when she needs him. And after years he still held onto that love and that loyalty. As I said he seems pretty perfect, but he’s not without his faults. And eventually he reaches a point where he tells Melanie that he can’t do it anymore, but even though she believes it, he knows it was just another tactic on his part. A heat of the moment type of thing.
“You’ve been kind of distant today, I guess I understand, but I have to admit, I am surprised.”
“I’ve learned to let you come to me. I figured if I kept my distance long enough you might miss me,” he says smiling.
Oliver has a lighter heart, he tries to make Melanie smile, and remember the good. He doesn’t dwell on the negative. With that being said, it’s not that Melanie’s miscarriage didn’t affect him. It did, but he chose to take his pain into his own hands and get the help he needed, and in doing so he was able to understand things from Melanie’s perspective. He even states that he knows it’s more difficult for a woman, she physically experiences the loss. Oliver remains strong and lets her lean on him, and that’s why we never see exactly how he handled it, but we know what he had to do to handle it. The story isn’t about his pain, it’s about theirs and how he will love her through hers no matter how much she pushes him away or how long he has to wait.
The main themes of love, hope, loyalty, friendship stem from everything these two people in love have between them. It’s everything they are. It’s a forever love story that can withstand all the pain and distance life throws their way. It’s a story about coming home, finding home, not just in a place, but in someone else’s heart.
In my last Author’s Commentary (which was for On The Run), I wrote BE MORE DESCRIPTIVE! And reading Welcome Home back, I feel like I listened. The story is set mostly during the holiday season in a small town in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You get a feel for the holidays by the scenery description of her childhood home and her walks through town.
What Needs Work:
I can always work on description, even though I’m improving. Timeline, is always tricky for me. I feel like you can get lost in time jumps and life events, and school years, and misjudge years. But hopefully I did ok, in this one. I will keep better track of this next time! As well as continue to learn about writing effective love scenes that fit the love between two charcters.
I’m really proud of this short story. I think it was more thought out, and paced nicely. It ran here on michelle leigh writes for 3 months, and my posting schedule was pretty consistent. I feel like it was the most consistent of any of the short stories I’ve written. Let’s dive in and show you what I mean…
Chapter 1- posted on Thursday, Dec. 15th, 2016
Chapter 2- posted on Thursday, Jan. 5th, 2017
Chapter 3- posted on Thursday, Jan. 12th, 2017
Chapter 4- posted on Thursday, Jan. 19th, 2017
Chapter 5- posted on Thursday, Jan. 26th, 2017
Chapter 6- posted on Thursday, Feb. 2nd, 2017
Chapter 7- posted on Thursday, Feb. 9th, 2017
Chapter 8- posted on Thursday, Mar. 2nd, 2017
Chapter 9- posted on Thursday, Mar. 16th, 2017
I kept to posting on Thursday, this way to allow other categories time on my blog and not saturate it with one thing. I posted consistently one chapter a week for the better part of the series, give or take a few which even then the longest break was no more than 3 weeks.
In other words, I think I’m slowly conquering the dreaded hiatus drama! Hallelujah!
So there you have it, my in depth Author’s Commentary.
Welcome Home Says Goodbye.
JK…Stay Tuned for a separate Soundtrack post…COMING SOON!
Thank you for reading!
Catch up on Welcome Home from the beginning HERE
And get a sneak peek at my next short story series HERE
*I do not take credit for any images used in my edits or otherwise.*