Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Beginning 271

He shrugged as a bear would, to remember this day and not the other. From where the truck was parked, in the cold, sharp October light of a New Mexico noon, he could see the ranchito below. The old house squatted tan and grey below two pines, and a double wide sat perpendicular to the old house, to the East. There were six cars, two of them in an arroyo to the West of the house.

He could safely assume that two of the cars in front of the houses ran, at least most of the time, and that two were in a twilight where their owners wished them to run but seldom were satisfied in their desire. At the gate itself, there was a new pickup parked, 50 yards from the house. Dave hoped that it didn't belong to the Martinezes, or his old friends might be suffering more money troubles than usual....


He heads west toward the arroyo. There are two cars there: a red Mustang, and a rusty Cavalier.

>start car

Which car would you like Dave to start?


He gets in the Mustang, finds the keys under the seat, and attempts to start the car. The car rattles and is silencio.


He shrugs like a bear would.

>start cavalier

He gets in the Cavalier, finds the keys on top of the dash, and attempts to start the car. He hears a clicking noise as the engine turns. It is the last thing he ever hears as the car explodes into rusty scrap, tearing him apart.

Would you like to try again?

Opening: Scott Jones.....Continuation: 150


writtenwyrdd said...

Quirky continuation.

This reads okay, but I'd delete the first sentence because it's confusing.

"and that two were in a twilight where their owners wished them to run but seldom were satisfied in their desire" is a bit clunky. I like the concept, but the prose hasn't established that moodiness you speak about, so it doesn't quite work yet.

foggidawn said...

Author, I've read your first sentence several times now, and it still does not make sense to me. This is probably my fault, but there you have it.

I'm guessing that we see some action in the following scene -- this is mostly description, some of which I rather like (the twilight of the cars, for example; while I agree with writtenwyrdd's assessment, I've known cars like that).

On just a nitpicking note, you don't need to capitalize west and east in the first paragraph.

Great continuation, 150.

Bernita said...

I agree that the first sentence, while a vivid image, does not seem to relate to your subsequent description, because you immediately jerk us into the visual.
Don't lose it, it's good - perhaps somewhere else?
You might cause some confusion also by "from where the truck was parked" ( his?) and the new- pick-up "parked 50 yards from the house."
For my ignorance, I don't know what a "double wide" is.

phoenix said...

I think 150 nailed what this opening feels like: an old computer quest game. The description here feels way too detailed. Appropriate when you're trying to get a map in your head of what things look like so you can make choices about where your computer character goes next, what s/he explores, and how to do it differently next time after s/he makes the wrong choice and is blown to bits and you have to start all over.

Such precise detail, much of it in passive language, seems to get in the way of whatever the story might hold. Do I need to know the doublewide is perpendicular to the house (which I'm told is an "old house" twice in the same sentence)? Maybe you say "In the arroyo on the other side of the house" rather than "west". "Several yards" rather than "50 yards" would do just as well unless this will be a murder mystery and the actual distance is important to the eventual plot.

As foggidawn mentions, the first sentence, while weirdly evocative, is difficult. Though I am quite fond of bears and their habits, I have no idea what the metaphorical connection is here. Sorry.

I do like your second sentence very much.

Bernita: A doublewide (usually one word) is a type of mobile home (trailer).

Anonymous said...

I actually thought the main character was a bear. No?

kiss-me-at-the-gate said...

The continuation is brilliant.

The opening didn't grab me. The first line confused me. The rest was fine, just not my sort of thing. Too much detail for me, and of things that don't really deserve that much description. I think your writing is strong, though, author. Maybe once it got into action or character development I'd like this better.

Anonymous said...

I love it, both what it is and how it's written.

I like the first sentence, although I don't know how shrugging--like a bear or any other style--helps one remember the day. I can accept your analogy, though.

I hear some slippage in "safely assume..." and "...where their owners wished them to run but seldom were satisfied in their desire." These are out of voice; that is, your engaging, evocative descriptive voice slips into intellectual verbiage.

This sounds like a noirish Western crime story. I'd like to read more.


Anonymous said...

Do bears shrug to remember certain days and not others? How does the character know that? The first sentence started so much speculation that it took me far away from the ranchito.

Much of what follows seems to be unnecessary visual detail. Does it really matter that there are six cars, two of them parked elsewhere? Maybe you're setting up some action where all this is important - if so, give us this detail when the action needs it, not at the beginning.

I liked the old house squatting tan and grey below two pines; but the doublewide jarred me, I don't know why. I liked the image of the car twilight but it seemed to belong in a different book.

There is no action in this beginning. Your imagery will have to be very finely crafted to make up for that deficit.

pacatrue said...

150 certainly brought back some old memories with that continuation.

takoda said...

Okay, I'm more of a character-driven person than a plot-driven one. I know this is a portion of your writing, and I liked it, but I wanted to know more about the character. And there was a disconnect to me, between the first sentence and last sentence posted. Quote:

He shrugged as a bear would, to remember this day and not the other.

Dave hoped that it didn't belong to the Martinezes, or his old friends might be suffering more money troubles than usual....

If Dave wanted to remember THIS day, he shouldn't be worried about his old friends suffering. I guess. Unless he's a bad guy and doesn't care about his friends.

I wish we could see an extra paragraph of your writing. I found it hard to follow, but not boring. I wanted to read more.


CM said...

150's continuation was absolutely hilariously brilliant.

Anonymous said...

150's continuation was AWESOME. Totally fit the writing. I laughed my head off.

Sorry, but the beginning felt like an old Fighting Fantasy or one of the old Space Quest games. Would you like to try again?

Bernita said...

Thank you, Phoenix.

M.W. said...

How does a bear shrug? Beyond Yogi, I've never seen it. You shrug to remember?

The presence of this excessive amount of cars does not make me want to continue reading. Also, why is them being able to run important?

Also, there is a lot of direction (perpendicular, East, West)--this just gets confusing, don't focus so much on the direction, but the feel of the place. Use it to build mood and augment the story.

McKoala said...

The first sentence didn't seem to fit the rest. And how does a bear shrug? I have to agree with the others; there's too much east and west and debating over car engines for my taste. However, I think that this may be a classic case of 150 words not being enough to see where this is going, or why Dave is being so precise. There may be a reason.

Scott said...

Thanks much for all the help, some of it is actually dead on.

FYI, this is a book of short stories, basically on-the-road narration. The leading character runs a car crushing operation that is mobile, working for the state of New Mexico. Descriptions, and people with their problems, are the point. The quest game analogy is somewhat appropriate, since the car crusher crew is more reactive with the New Mexicans than proactive, making choices based on unexpected words or situations.

I should have posted 2 more paras, but then, if the first two didn't get you ....