Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New Beginning 33

I hated paying bribes. You had to be subtle and a sweet talker, neither of which came naturally to me. Probably why I was paying three times more for a human life than the next person. And now I had raised the guard’s suspicion. “This is a lot of money.” He eyed me, thumbing through the large wad of bills I’d passed him and I could tell he was thinking of upping the price. “For half this amount you could pay to have someone kill her.”

He could probably give me a referral to the best of Brazil’s death squads--if he wasn’t on one himself.

“I don’t want her dead . . . ” I held his gaze. “ . . . right away.”

His lip curled back into a smile. Now we were getting somewhere. “Wait here.” He disappeared through the only door in the cramped room.

He returned with Isabel and a blond stranger. "A bonus," he said, shoving the blond toward me. "Now go."

We didn't have to be told twice. Safely in the car, I locked the doors and gunned the engine. I drove to a deserted spot. There was going to be hell to pay, and I didn't even know the blond's name yet. We needed to get our story straight.

"We just wanted to have some fun," Isabel told me. The blond nodded.

"Fun?!" I said. "The nuns are frantic. Cut class once more, young lady, and you won't graduate fourth grade!"

Continuation: Kate Thornton


xiqay said...

I LIKE IT! I have no idea where the story is going or even the genre. But I really want to keep reading. The MC isn't perfect, but he's trying. He's going to save someone. I already want him to succeed. He (or she) hits on a clever way to pretend he's mean and twisted. And he's going to get the unknown woman out of the (obvious) hell hole. YAY!

The only nit-pick. How does this guy know what the next person pays? Maybe change that line to just paying so much for a human life, without comparison to what others do. Raising the guard's suspicion suggests that anyway.

Thanks for posting. For me, this opening really works well.

Anonymous said...

I too like this opening a lot. The tone and the mystery is just right to make me want to keep reading.

And I too have a nit-pick - try the first two sentences in present tense, see what happens.

Good luck with it!

Anonymous said...

Yes! It definitely held my interest. Well done.

Anonymous said...

I like it. I would read on. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Good beginning. Any chance you'd consider changing those first two sentences to the present tense?

"I hate paying bribes. You have to be subtle and a sweet talker -- I am neither. "

Maybe the tense is important -- maybe the narrator changes his mind later and decides he *likes* paying bribes. Otherwise, there's no reason to state that in the past tense. All else being equal, it's a bit snappier in present tense.

Anonymous said...

I like this one, too. (I think I remember the query letter for this--it didn't do your writing justice.)

This sentence read awkwardly for me: He could probably give me a referral to the best of Brazil’s death squads--if he wasn’t on one himself. I didn't know whether the narrator was speculating about the guard's involvement with death squads or had knowledge about it. It's a good way to work in the reference to the setting, but not yet as smooth as it might be.

Frainstorm said...

Certainly raises questions that would urge the reader to continue.

From a formatting perspective, I think the first paragraph needs to break up a bit. You should start a new graph with the quotation marks:

"This is a lot of money."

I thought we had a unreliable narrator here at the beginning, which I would have loved. Calling himself (herself?)neither subtle nor a sweet talker. C'mon, that's sweet talking and subtle right there, I thought.

But no. You deflate that in the next sentence when he admits to paying three times what he should. That was a disappointment for me. Wasn't wrong, just disappointing for what I was hoping.

Then I get a little confused: He's paying 3x what he should, but the guard says "For half this amount ..." so maybe he's wrong about his original estimate?

I'd definitely want to read on because it has raised interesting questions, but I think you can tigthen up a couple places. Great start! Good luck with the next 150 ... pages!