Monday, September 03, 2007

New Beginning 354

If the tattoo had been there, Samantha Moon would have hit her first target perfectly. She could have gone back to her school and accepted the congratulations and cheers from classmates and proud teachers for a job well done.

And she was pretty positive she had hit the mark with the same professionalism as the older, more experienced assassins.

But the Tattoo wasn’t there. So, of course, that was a huge problem.

Pulling the photograph from her black Gucci handbag, she held it up next to the dead man’s face and studied it carefully. The resemblance was close, real close but no tattoo.

Exasperated, her black high heel tapping impatiently, she pulled her sleek designer cell phone out and punched in the number to the school.

“Downtown.” A slight raspy voice answered the phone on the second ring. The woman on the other end of the phone was named Pearl. She was a long time employee and former teacher of Downtown. She dyed her hair a bright red and smoked Salem Lights 100’s cigarettes. They had once had a cussing contest that lasted all night.

Samantha seized the dead man's two-dollar haircut in one immaculately manicured hand, and turned his cheaply tanned face so she could get a better look at his right cheek.

"Pearl, honey, I need you to run over here," she said, glancing around for a store that sold smokes and wouldn't snap her heels off at the door. "There's a carton of Salems in it if you get here in less than twenty minutes. And bring some ink and a needle."

Opening: Melissa J. Rees.....Continuation: BuffySquirrel


Evil Editor said...

I wouldn't expect congrats and cheers and proud teachers at an assassins' school. I'd expect it to be all business.

Minor quibbles: I would expect her to hold the photo down next to the dead man's face, not up.

If you just say "Pearl's raspy voice answered the phone... you won't need the next sentence, which tells us nothing except her name is Pearl.

Salem's or Salem Lights is specific enough. Four words to describe a cigarette sounds like padding the word count.

I'd delete "pretty" and "older" from paragraph 2.

No need to tell us she's exasperated if you're showing us with her tapping foot.

writtenwyrdd said...

I liked this a lot. The voice and the problem had me curious what you will be showing us next. But as EE observes, stuff can be adjusted still.

Dave said...

I might be more willing to read on if you change the tenses. As it is, it reads slow and awkward. That's only my opinon.
try something like:
Samatha Moon almost hit her first target. The tattoo wasn't there. She wouldn't get any credit for a job well down.
She executed the job done with the same professionalism as the more experienced assassins. But this wasn't the mark. no Tattoo was a big problem.
and so on...
I like the setup of a hit gone bad as an opening. It's quirky.

WouldBe said...

Buffy's continuation was great. It highlighted the heavy-handed effort by the author to show that the assassin was dressed to kill, so to speak; and suggested a fun treatment of, well, killing-for-hire.

With those improvements in mind, I think the author has a nice beginning. (Lose or totally overhaul the last paragraph, though; the first few paragraphs are too important for space-filling.)

WouldBe said...

I meant by those improvements, EE's direct suggestions and Buffy's indirect one.

Lightsmith said...

Granted, Samantha is attending assassin school, but doesn't she feel even a twinge of guilt over having killed another human being for the first time?

In the continuation, what does it mean that a store "wouldn't snap her heels off at the door"? Just curious.

Overall I liked this opening. I found it engaging and readable. The continuation is hilarious.

katemoss said...

Interesting premise. Promising voice. I agree with EE's recommended changes, but like the tense as is. It reads like a draft that is ready for a thorough critique by test readers or a critique partner.

Anonymous said...

Maybe there's some sort of pattern that is established later on, or perhaps it's a typographical error, but alternating between not capitalizing and then capitalizing and then not capitalizing the "T" in "tattoo" bothered me.

I'm the type of person who would assume it's an oversight of some sort that might repeat itself throughout the book, but I'm also an unpublished type of person.

Evil Editor said...

what does it mean that a store "wouldn't snap her heels off at the door"?

I wasn't sure myself but figured those who wear high heels would know. Probably it's something like this:

Dave said...

I've seen high heels stuck in designer color asphalt turned soft by the sun. Those spiky heels just sink into the asphalt and then can't be pulled out.

I've also see high heels stuck in ventilation gratings on the sidewalks. Most women I know will not walk on metal grates with any heel because the leather slides. {And really spiky heels can fit in the holes).

There were old escalators in department stores that used to grab high heels and snap them off the women's feet. Like instant sprained ankle.

Heels also used to chew up the carpeting in automobiles. That "very expensive" one ply carpet just couldn't take spiky heels.

But I never saw a door span heels. Not that the metaphor bothered me. Perhaps the shops and bars are chauvinistic and forbid women.

Dave said...

In that last sentence it's SNAP not SPAN.
I saw it just as blogger made it dissappear.

McKoala said...

EE makes comments now? I go away for a week or so and the whole world changes while I'm gone.

The only thing that I didn't like was the emphasis on her vamp status. The Gucci, the high heels, the sleek designer cell phone - it just seems to be trying a bit too hard to get that across. Interesting scenario.

Dave Kuzminski said...

I don't find it strange at all for someone to feel no emotion at killing another person. I know of true instances of that occurring.

Anonymous said...

Overanalysing 150, I'm sure, but: The first sentence implies a cause and effect that isn't true. She didn't hit her target because the tattoo wasn't there; it was because it was the wrong man. As written, it kind of implies the tattoo had something to do with it. If the tattoo had been there, it would have meant she hit her first target perfectly. Yeah, I'm nit-picking.

A bigger problem for me, though, in addition to what's already been pointed out: doesn't the assassin school tell its pupils to get the heck out after a hit? Isn't hanging around futzing with photographs and making cellphone calls a pretty bad idea when you've just killed someone?

Ello said...

Thought this was quite interesting and wanted to keep reading. I do agree that it has a heavy handedness to it that I think everyone else kind of commented on already. And I agree that cheers and proud teachers seem contradictory with assassin school. But very interesting, indeed.

Dexter said...

I don't find it strange at all for someone to feel no emotion at killing another person.

Me neither.

phoenix said...

Is Samantha going to be the protag? I can see a sympathetic assassin as an MC if they're killing for a cause or because they're being coerced. But Samantha seems more concerned that she missed her first target and what's everyone gonna think than she does that she just killed an innocent person. Not the kind of personality I want to hang with for any length of time, I'm afraid. If she's not the protag, then this could be kinda fun.

Maybe there's a way you can slip all the description about Pearl into something other than what feels a bit like a heavy-handed info dump. Doing so can also give the reader a clue as to how Samantha feels about Pearl. Maybe something like:

“Downtown.” A raspy voice answered the phone on the second ring. Damn, Samantha thought, it's Pearl. She almost hung up on the red-headed hussy with the perpetual Salem Light dangling from her lips. Sam wasn't easily going to forget that all-night cussing contest they'd slammed down last month, but right now Sam needed someone as experienced as Downtown's former teacher.


“Downtown.” A raspy voice answered the phone on the second ring. Thank God, Samantha thought, it's Pearl. The woman might smoke too many Salem Lights, but Pearl was experienced enough, and friend enough, to get her out of this mess. Wasn't she Downtown's former teacher? And she'd certainly proven she could hold her own in that all-night cussing contest she and Sam had slammed through last month. Sam had a lot of respect for Pearl, even if it was painfully obvious her red dye job came straight out of the box.

Anonymous said...

So she's vain, sociopathic and just took out an innocent stranger?

I think I'm in love.

BuffySquirrel said...

Sqrls don't wear high heels; they've just watched too many B movies.

And that Urban Legends book is fantastic!

Bernita said...

I don't find it strange at all for someone to feel no emotion at killing another person.
Nor do I.

Bernita said...

Maybe it's just me but I find the first sentence clunky. Maybe because of confusion about whether the target is inanimate or a "hit."
I find the same thing later with the line "hit the mark."
Consider "It should have been a perfect hit."

writtenwyrdd said...

People can rationalize anything. Anything.

Bonnie said...

Oooh, a chicklit assassin.

I find myself hoping that she gets what's coming to her -- sympathetic she is NOT -- but boy she looks like fun to ride along with. I am so hooked.