Saturday, December 16, 2006

New Beginning 175


At the annual charity ball for our nonprofit radio station, I sat with my news partner Michelle and her husband. Michelle is a thirtysomething career girl who drives a powder-blue BMW and spends several evenings a week questing for the perfect tropical drink. It surprised us all to learn that her husband is a home repairman.

"How interesting," said Anne, who broadcasts the celebrity and fashion program. "How did you meet?"

"Oh my god," giggled Michelle. There is laughter in everything she says. "Should I tell it? I'll tell it from my perspective, okay?"

"You can tell it," said her husband, with good-natured complacency.

"Well." Michelle positioned herself as if she was preparing to deliver an exceptional piece of gossip: hands up, ready to emphasize anything she said. Her eyes were bright with the thrill of telling a good story.

“I was in my apartment. I’d just put on a Herb Alpert LP and was cleaning along to the music -- you know, duster-cizing -- when the doorbell rang. I opened the door, and there was Dirk, come to fix my washing machine. Well, he looked like a young Tom Selleck, standing there with his rugged features and his cute moustache.” Anne looked at me and rolled her eyes, but Michelle just continued. “So, he came in and dismantled the washer -- I tell you, kneeling there he had the cutest butt I’d ever seen. Before I knew it, he had it all fixed and back together.

“‘Anything else I can do for you, Ma’am?’ he said. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I do have a pipe that needs unblocking.’ So he said, ‘I’m going to need the long rod for that one,’ and gave me one of those French looks; you know, double entendre. Well, next thing I knew I was bent over the Maytag on spin cycle. And we’ve been together ever since.”

“So, let me get this straight,” Anne sniped, giving me a side-long glance. “You guys actually met in a bad seventies porn movie?”

Michelle gave Anne her bitchiest glare ever. “And how else do you think I could afford a powder-blue BMW?”


Opening: Detritus.....Continuation: ril

16 comments:

Dave said...

Valley girls don't thrill me. She parties, she giggles, she overacts. I'm running for an insulin shot.

You've given the reader no reason to read on. And there's a few too many details and too many words.

HawkOwl said...

I enjoyed it. Like any chick lit, it could get vapid, but the language is sound and effective. Plus anything that involves celebrity and fashion holds the promise of fuck-me shoes. I'd look at more.

Loved the continuation, too.

writtenwyrdd said...

I actually liked this opening. It might be overdone, but it seemed like a lot of the other fluffy chicklit comedic books I've read recently. I would have read on. (Sorry Dave, some of us have low tastes!)

Ril, the continuation was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Ril, you are a naughty, naughty boy (or girl). Why are you writing fabulous continuations to everyone's openings instead of concentrating on your own best seller? I'm not the only one who thinks so:

Ril's 5th grade teacher: "He's got so much potential, but he's not focused."

Ril's mother: "He's always in his room with the door locked. I don't know what he's doing. He says he's writing something, but I haven't seen a manuscript!"

Ril's boss: "If he shows up late for work one more time, he can look for work somewhere else. He was so enthusiatic about delivering pizzas at the beginning, but it seems it wasn't what he expected."

Bernita said...

Smooth.
"There is laughter in everything she says" is a lovely line.

Anonymous said...

I liked the opening line. Somebody should write a story with a character working for nonprofits. It's another world.

You lost me when I read that Michelle is a "career girl who drives a powder-blue BMW and [still] spends several evenings a week questing for the perfect tropical drink."
I won't be surprised by anything in this story.

As for the continuation, I am always disappointed when somebody describes a repairman's butt as 'cute' - unless, of course, the repairman owns the building. Then that's different.

GutterBall said...

I don't do chick lit, so I'll just comment on style. Good job on style. Nothing made me stumble over your words. The flow is good.

But I'd still pass. Sorry, kiddo.

batgirl said...

I don't read a lot of chick lit (unless Jennifer Crusie counts?) but I thought the opening was well done. The language is clear, the situation is lively and well-observed, there's promise of a surprising story.
I'd read on.
The continuation was dandy, caught the opening's tone beautifully.

Virginia Miss said...

Cute. Keep the continuation!

Dave said...

I think that I'm the only man to comment on this - - and that is why I'm the odd opinion out.

Interesting...

AttemptingFiction said...

This is decent writing. You start out well. The first sentence has nice immediacy. But that second sentence has problems. ("Michelle is a . . .") This is too much description too soon. The first paragraph of a novel is the last place you want to cram in a bunch of exposition.

bunnygirl said...

No, Dave, you're not alone. I find the notion of a thirtysomething whose idea of a good time is to spend several nights a week seeking out tropical drinks... well, juvenile. And boring. I prefer characters with more interesting hobbies than Bacardi.

But it's not a badly written opening. My biggest concern is that it's about to launch into tedious backstory about how Michelle and her husband met. If I were into this particular genre, I'd read on for a few more lines, but warily.

Anonymous said...

Author here! Thanks for all the comments on the writing; the positive ones were really uplifting and the negative ones were constructive.

These openings can be a great exercise for both writers and commenters. This opening is from a thousand-word short story about, basically, a cute romantic meeting. Michelle is a real person and the story is true. (I wrote it to see if I could capture her distinctive way of telling it. She's adorable.) How would knowing that change your comments on the opening?

-Detri

(word ver = tarzspt --> A jungle clearing which can only be crossed by swinging on a rope)

Rei said...

Telling, telling, telling. I'll put telling in italics (I won't highlight things that are simple character building that couldn't be inferred from good dialogue).

---

At the annual charity ball for our nonprofit radio station, I sat with my news partner Michelle and her husband. Michelle is a thirtysomething career girl who drives a powder-blue BMW and spends several evenings a week questing for the perfect tropical drink. It surprised us all to learn that her husband is a home repairman.

"How interesting," said Anne, who broadcasts the celebrity and fashion program. "How did you meet?"

"Oh my god," giggled Michelle. There is laughter in everything she says. "Should I tell it? I'll tell it from my perspective, okay?"

"You can tell it," said her husband, with good-natured complacency.

"Well." Michelle positioned herself as if she was preparing to deliver an exceptional piece of gossip: hands up, ready to emphasize anything she said. Her eyes were bright with the thrill of telling a good story.

Don't tell us why things are happening. Work things into the exchange. Have Michelle gesture with her hands at key points in the exchange. Have the husband's words give a sense of good-natured complacency. And aren't we about to find out about the repairman in the conversation? Then why bother to tell us in advance?

I hate having things spelled out to me like I'm a child. Just have them happen and don't reiterate.

HawkOwl said...

I always thought Gutterball was a dude, but apparently not. Sorry. :)

Bunnygirl - Yes. But Sex and the City was all forty-somethings doing just that and look how well it sold! :)

Anonymous said...

Telling, telling, telling. I'll put telling in italics...

...I hate having things spelled out to me like I'm a child.

Hmm.