Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Beginning 375

Lightspeed. That's my name.

Out here you earn your name. If you screw up you’re branded for life: Crash, Dead End, Spin Out. A score of others that never make it past the gate. You can’t escape those names, they stick with you your whole life. Lightspeed? That’s a good one.

I got my name when I was 16 and reckless, fearless. Didn't know what it was to burn out. Or burn in. I got addicted to the buzz. To the jumble of lights and the smell of scorched flesh. To the injection, most of all. That moment of pure connection. Blood pumping, synapses firing.

Yeah. That part.

When you plug in and hit the switch, hear the coils charging, feel the frame vibrating with raw power. There's nothing else like it in the world. Freeflying over the pitch in a blink, rolling the chute with a dozen others so close you can feel their draft as you pass. It's more than a rush. It's a fucking mindstorm.

Sarah smiled vacantly, her eyes glazing over as she prayed for her cell phone to ring with an "emergency." She was going to kill Alison when she got home. What the hell was Alison thinking setting her up with this freak? It sounded to her like "Lightspeed" enjoyed his job on death row waaaay too much.

Opening: Scott=.....Continuation: freddie


Bernita said...

But if you don't designate just what physical form of rush he's addicted to in the next few lines, you'll lose me.

Evil Editor said...

I would delete: A score of others that never make it past the gate. Not clear what it means, and there's good transition between the surrounding sentences.

There's a limit to how long you can spend introducing your main character without hinting at your story. You might consider cutting this at Yeah. That part. and continuing: It was almost closing time when the dame walked into my office...

Later the MC can tell the dame all about the rush of the charging coils and rolling the chute.

By the way, I too am addicted to the smell of scorched flesh. That's why I carry a flamethrower wherever I go.

Church Lady said...

By the way, I too am addicted to the smell of scorched flesh. That's why I carry a flamethrower wherever I go.


Do you have clipart for that?

I want to know what you drink in the morning, EE. :-)

Dave F. said...

I'm definitely with Bernita and EE. In fact, EE is surgical compared to the bludgeon I would use.

I think that you should say "Lightspeed? Now that's my name.
I got it when I was 16 and..."

The narrator is bragging about his name and not just explaining it. Let the reader make the judgment about the "quality" or "goodness" of the name.

As EE points out, sometime later in the story, this character is going to reveal his past. That's when he or she can can use the third paragraph. It happens when the character explains the burnout from his/her young lifestyle.

One more comment, Mindstorm is the name of a robotic kit from LEGO.

The continuation is excellent.

Robin S. said...

Hi Scott,

I like most of this- as I've been branded a potty mouth in a previous post- I feel it's only honest to go on record and say that I really like your line: "It's a fucking mindstorm."

Personal taste here -- I'd change the first line to: My name is Lightspeed, or Lightspeed is my name, or something like that.

And I'd take out "Lightspeed? That's a good one." You don't need this, in my opinion.

It seems like the opening may go on too long - maybe combining the 3rd and 5th paragraphs - and editing some things out- to make it cleaner, spare, would be a good idea. Leaving the mindstorm sentence intact, of course!

Hi freddie- your continuation is really good.

Kanani said...

I agree. There is a limit to how long a reader is willing to wait until they feel like they're freefalling in space.

Where is he? What's he doing? What's he seeing? Why is he explaining and does the explanation have anything to do with where he is at the moment.

Ali said...

I really love the voice here. I wouldn't cut any of it, but I'd consider interspersing some action, showing us where he is and why. As it reads, I have no idea if he's a drug addict, a fighter pilot, or a guy in a Matrix. And since the smell of scorched flesh doesn't really mesh with any of those, I'm probably wrong on all three counts. It's a fine line between intriguing the reader and keeping him/her completely in the dark.

You could help us out a little just by adding a word or two here or there. "Out here you earn your name." Out here on the prairie? In space? On the NASCAR track? "...feel the frame vibrating with raw power." The car frame? Xhanslth frame? Mainframe computer?

Overall, though, I think it's an excellent start and with a little more in the way of specifics I'd definitely read on.

Scott said...

Author here -

Thanks for the comments. I know this is a bit wordy, so some paring is in order.

Believe it or not, this isn't about illicit drug use, despite the "burn out" and "injection" images. The MC is participating in a futuristic sport, kind of a cross between NASCAR, superbike, and air racing. The plug in refers to the way they actually harness their own body's reflexes to control their crafts (physically plug in--hence the scorched flesh at the injection point). The lines "freeflying over the pitch..." and "rolling the chute..." are references to the action of this violent sport.

Robin - Combining the 3rd and 5th paras is a good idea.

I'll trim.

Phoenix said...

Oh my gosh -- I agree completely with EE. How'd that happen?? This was exactly was I was thinking when I read this: Delete the "A score of others..." sentence and stop this at "Yeah." Cut to story for a bit so you can ground the reader in just who the MC is and what s/he's doing, then bring in that last paragraph later (and DO bring it in!).

Otherwise, wouldn't change a thing. I think this is solid with great voice. Excellent!

ME said...

Another compliment on the narrative voice. I like this guy Lightspeed, and part of that is the cheeky way he sounds. But I need something to go on after the 3rd Prgh. I did not like the "When you plug..." paragrah and I was off wondering drugs, astronaut or some such, so I agree with those who've mentioned to intersperse some specifics, i.e. the name of the futuristic sport, where "out here" is, etc. Also, your "Freeflying" grammar works and then it doesn't: I would delete the (.) after "power" and use a dash instead. Liked the character, have interest in the story.

Ali said...

Scott, You confirmed my initial comment, then--as soon as I knew it was a racing thing I re-read it and all the pieces came together and it totally cooked (fortunately, without the smell of scorched flesh, here). Nice work.

Scott said...

As always, you guys are great. Thanks for the tips!

I forgot in my earlier post: freddie, LOVE the continuation!!


McKoala said...

You're going to hate me, but I can't help but tread this in Owen Wilson's voice when he's in 'Cars' as Lightning McQueen monologing on his need for speed. Sorry.

Phoenix said...

Hi Scott:

Just saw your comment about this being futuristic xtreme racing. When I re-read it with that understanding, it was even better than the first reading, and the whole piece laid out as you have it makes complete sense.

However, I needed to know exactly the information you provided in your comment to "get" the 5th paragraph. On first, ignorant read, I was loving the imagery but flailing to figure out what it meant and why. I was sort of picturing Vipers or X-wings in a space setting.

Maybe just a real short transition section where you get a little more specific, like:

Yeah, that part.

When you're harnessed up, waiting for the "Go," and you plug in. That fried tingle as flesh and metal mate and your racecraft pulses to life, a symbiotic extension of your own reflexes.

Then you hit the switch, hear the coils charging ...

Mckoala: You made me think of an earlier discussion where someone (Lightsmith?) said they didn't think "Cars" would work as a novel. Beg to differ if it were written like this :o) I didn't hear Owen's voice at all, though, and it wasn't that long ago I watched "Cars."

Scott said...

Wow Phoenix. You really nailed the sense of this piece. I like your transition paragraph. Really like it.


Can I use it? :)

Thanks a bunch for the feedback. On to the revision...

Phoenix said...

To shamelessly exploit other people's comments for free is one of the main reasons I visit this blog, Scott. Well, that, and being able to put my phone on mute and have a giggle- or snort-fest during some really boring conference calls. Like now, for instance. It's either check out any new stuff here or play Boggle with the letters that make up this meeting's topic. Use away...

sylvia said...

I immediately got this as being about extreme sports. Like the others, the bragging and "that's a good name" turned me off.

It did, however, make the continuation all the funnier - I hadn't even noticed the injection reference until I reread it as a death-row job!