Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New Beginning 283

“Hoodlum!” Mrs. Harp had angrily raised a fist as her son, wearing a black leather jacket and riding a double-fork extended motorcycle rolled past her. “So you have become a Hell’s Angel now? May God have mercy on your soul.”

“Ma! I didn’t join a gang. I just bought a bike, that’s all.”

“I forbid it! Take it back this minute!” Mark’s mother hadn’t known whether she should worry more about her son’s physical or spiritual safety. “We’ll see what your father has to say about this.”

Mark knew his father wouldn’t be home for at least another few hours. He hoped the old man would be on his side for once.

“Not just anybody can ride a motorcycle. It takes skill.” Mark’s face was determined. “I’ll bet it becomes an event at the Olympics someday.” His thoughts had had this same justified tone for the past hour.

"Get off," Mark's mother said. "Now." Mark glared at her as he dismounted, only to watch as she hopped on and went into a series of stunts in the street, including a Captain America, Watchtower, Cliffhanger and Elevator. Then she flew down the block doing a No-handed Wheelie, and finished with a one-handed stoppie, right in front of her gaping son.

Stepping off of the bike, she said, "Good top end horsepower, but a little light on torque. And if your father says you can keep it, get those front brakes checked; I didn't like the way they felt on that stoppie."

Opening: ME.....Continuation: Evil Editor


writtenwyrdd said...

I liked this. Not sure what the pov is, however, which may be something to pay attention to.

One mention, which isn't a problem but an observation: The choice of language in Mom's speech was a bit dated, giving the scene a sense of being set in the 50s or 60s. (Hoodlum vs Gansta, gang banger or some other current word choice; "so you have become a Hell's Angel" vs. "so you're a Hell's Angel")

Anonymous said...

I noticed Ma's speech, too. It sounded like really well done speech depicting an older woman who didn't grow up speaking English. Possibly Italian? The woman is real to me, whatever her nationality.

She did seem a little dated to have a son in his late teens/early twenties, but if so I must be dated too. I used the word hoodlum just last week.

I enjoyed the opening. It had action and laid the foundation for lots of conflict.

foggidawn said...

Anon 5:19's comment makes Ma's quirks of speech make sense to me. In fact, assuming that (1) this takes place some time ago and (2) Ma is, in fact, a first-generation English speaker, I have a lot fewer issues with this. If those two points were not your intention, you might want to look at the things earlier commenters mentioned.

In your first line, I'd take the "had" out of there and make it "Mrs. Harp raised an angry fist," or something along those lines. Also, I'd probably turn the bit about Ma worrying about Mark's physical and spiritual safety into dialogue, especially if Mark is your main character.

Sorry to be nitpicky -- this seems like a good place to begin the story; it gets the reader's attention and introduces the characters nicely.

Dave said...

I think that the details about the "black leather jacket and riding a double-fork extended motorcycle" and the mother's yelling "So you have become a Hell’s Angel now?" are the same thought. They serve the same purpose to tell us what Mark Harp looks like.

And before the POV people get too exercised, you should have the mother say the line "Mark’s mother hadn’t known whether she should worry more about her son’s physical or spiritual safety"as words - something like "You want to break your back and end up in a wheelchair like Uncle Bluto or die as a drugged out waste like that bum of a cousin, Guido" ... That cures the reader seeing into both their minds at once.

And the had had - I hate using "had". . .
Justifications, can't live with them, can't live without them. I find it easier to go without sex than to give up justifications. I can justify giving up sex but not giving up making excuses about the past. And if I have a thought it my mind that justifies a "donor-mobile on two wheels" then I might be inclined to think that someday, stunt riding will rise from the schlock of Evil Knievel to the highminded Success of Bruce Jenner and the other two decathalete wannabbees Dan and Dave. That's justifying the word "had" in my mind, and "had had" makes me cry. Please, I beg you, I grovel at your stinky toes - remove the "had had" never write it again.

Best motorcycle jump ever - Paul Newman in The Great Escape.

takoda said...

Hi ME, I liked this. I've been waiting for it to come up. A few suggestions:

Delete 'had' in the first sentence.

"I forbid it! Take it back this minute!" ....needs more drama. The bike needs to become an obscenity to the mother. "I forbid you to ride this, this....thing. Take it back this minute." Delete exclamation marks.

Mark's voice in the last paragraph seems too juvenile. Unless that's what you were aiming for. And re-word the last sentence so it doesn't have 2 'hads.'

I liked this a lot though. Hope some of the suggestions help.

EE, hysterical continuation! And just when I was convinced you could be a woman (after reading the top ten GTPs, the one about 'Loving Yourself With Food'--your comments, were, well, uh, seemed too empathatic for a man. But hey, what do I know. I was laughing til I was crying reading those last night.)


Beth said...

This is not a bad beginning--it's got conflict and energy--but it needs some tweaking. The POV is all over the place, so you can't tell which character this story, or at least this scene, is about. Try rewriting it through one character's eyes only. The reader needs someone to identify with.

In the first line, you don't need "had." Nor do you need "angrily," which is an example of what I call micro-telling--sneaky little words slipped in to explain what is already being shown by body language and dialogue. This is what gives adverbs a bad name.

The last sentence (at least, I think it's the last, since here in the comment section I can't see where your version leaves off and the continuation picks up)--

His thoughts had had this same justified tone for the past hour.

--is awkwardly worded. You can probably find a more elegant and compact way to say that.

Evil Editor said...

Best motorcycle jump ever - Paul Newman in The Great Escape.

Best jump off a cliff ever - Steve McQueen in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Kanani said...

How old is this kid?
Is this YA?
Small things:
Try using contractions with the mother to make the sentence roll better. She's angry, and her words are more than likely to come out quickly.

I'd also combine it to: "May God have mercy on your soul, you've become a Hell's Angel."

Also, "I forbid it" and "Take it back this minute" are saying a similiar thing.

If you want to play up the conflict, then have Mark REACT. He's not reacting to his mother's condemnation, yet he's done something he knew would defy her sense of order. So I think you could make him less thinking about the Olympics, than he'd be saying, "Well F-you old lady." Let him stomp off, or something

Dave said...

I'm going to bust myself. It's Steve McQueen who did the motorcycle jump in "The Great Escape" not Paul Newman.
I blame the oversight on a late dinner and bad trip to the supermarket that had run out of everything I wanted. (See, I didn't have sex tonight but I did justify something - ain't rationalization great!)

ME said...

Thank you for the comments.
Yes, the mom is 1st gen and excessively wordy without saying much.

POV issues: The first "had" made me think I needed the 2nd two.Sorry to cause you pain, Dave. Both are bad, bad, bad and will be deleted. The actual POV does jump from the mom to the son rather abruptly, the result of a quick but poorly executed edit before I submitted. I will practice executing the "hads" to better sound the death knell on whatever else needs to go. This (short)story
was under the bed; maybe it needs to go back there.

ME said...

Oh, almost forgot. Wonderful continuation EE. You can ride my Harley any day.
Ok, it's really a Suzuki crotch-rocket, but in my mind . . .

McKoala said...

I was disturbed by 'had' in the first line - are you starting with a flashback? How's he talking and riding a motorbike at the same time. Wouldn't he leave her for dust? I liked the mother's tone of voice - seemed like she was speaking English as a second language to me. Can you sort the POV?

Really liked the continuation, but what's up EE? Can't get the minions to write you anything decent?!

sylvia said...

*guilty look* Have we been slacking? It's hard to keep up with the wit that your readers have become accustomed to!

Twill said...

She says "Take it back this minute!" and then it's as if she never said it.

Is this rhetoric, or did she expect him to comply? I would expect a response from him, if only a statement that he did nothing.