Saturday, March 22, 2008

New Beginning 470

My name is Zachary Willis. FleX and I met in 1979, at a loft on Canal Street in NYC. He was the first flex; he had the handle before the DJs, the dotcoms and the industrialists. He spawned them all, from flextime to flexgeist. When I met him, his big gig was his early noise band, the FleXibles, in which he played lead guitar and sang. The FleXibles were more than just another blast of Jack Daniels and speed with a weird rockabilly undercurrent and unintelligible lyrics, but they never had much impact beyond the vortex of that musical moment. They were at their best that night when someone slid open the loft’s pulsing steel door. Maybe 50 people milled around, a few dancing wildly, a lot of them stoned on heroin (anyone remember “White Widow?”). Holes gaped in the floor, and it was hard not to imagine what might creep out of them. Then the electricity crashed, stranding everyone in a murmuring penumbra of dark creatures.

The darkness caught FleX mid-pogo and he missed the edge of the stage on the downbeat that never came. It took three EMTs to pull him from the hole in the floor. He chipped a vertebra and walks with a cane now. Last I heard, he'd changed his name and was fronting his new band, the StiFFs.

Opening: Richard Dailey.....Continuation: ril


Evil Editor said...

Uncosen Continuation:

# # #

"Look, I read your 'What I Did Over Summer Vacation' composition and I can't make sense of it. What's with you? None of that happened."

"You don't understand, Dad," Zach replied.

"Sure I do. You don't want to admit to your classmates that you and your brother spent the entire summer in your room learning to play the harmonica, so you embellished. You just went a little overboard, that's all."

"Dad, that's the whole point. We're learning how to write fictional memoirs!"

--dave conifer

Evil Editor said...

This is a decent opening for the type of book this is, but a few points:

I can do without (anyone remember “White Widow?”) It's too early to be talking to me like we're pals, and I don't remember it, and I don't want to head for Google in paragraph 1.

Not clear in what way they were more than just another band if they never had any impact.

Why are there holes in the floor, and why are people dancing around wildly in a room with holes in the floor?

Is this a better starting place than the first time Zach met Rachel, FleX's Haitian girlfriend? Did he meet her that night? The heart of the book, according to the query, is Zach's obsession with Rachel. It's worth considering starting: My name is Zachary Willis. I met Rachel Aufin in 1979, at ...

Sarah Laurenson said...

This is all tell. Can you start with some show instead? I understand you're in the character's head, but if the telling continues, I'm putting the book back on the shelf.

Or maybe pull out just a bit and don't be so close in his head. Some distance at first might help ground me in the story.

Robin S. said...

OK, I gotta disagree with EE and Sarah. I like this just the way it is.

If it's fiction, it reads like non-fiction. If it's non-fiction/memoir stuff (which I have yet to purchase one of that I've really enjoyed), I think I'd enjoy it.

And I wouldn't Google for the White thing. I'd just be carried along with the comfortable easy wave of conversational narrative, and 'listen in'.

I'd read on.

ril- your continuation was a fine one.

Evil Editor said...

Whattaya mean you disagree? I said it was a decent beginning for this type of book. I asked a few questions, but the only concrete suggestion was to get rid of the parenthetical question, which adds nothing. In fact, it pretty much breaks the fourth wall, as if he's winking to his real audience, people who were into heroin in 1979.

Even if the book is filled with parenthetidcal asides to the reader, I think I'd wait till after paragraph 1 to start doing it.

Or paragraph 2 (I'd start a new paragraph after "flexgeist)."

Robin S. said...

Hey there. I meant I wouldn't change anything, and I thought it was a better than decent beginning.

What type of book, by the way? You normally don't mention that sort of thing.

Evil Editor said...

The type described in FaceLift 504 (which also gives info on how you can read more of it).

Anonymous said...

If he's the first Flex, why does he need to capitalize the X?

Sarah Laurenson said...

It's very similar to your style Robin, though I don't think it's as well done. It's not as colorful. It's not as artistic. It doesn't have as much of a distinct voice.

So, yes, you may like it as is. Me? I want more. I'd like there to be something more interesting and less on the wtf side - like the holes in the floor. How big are these holes? Is this a mesh floor? Are the dancers in danger of falling in? Or is it that you can see up their skirts if you stand underneath?

Pull me into the story without making me stop and say wtf does that mean. Then I'll be very happy to read on. If you lose me in the first couple of paragraphs, I'm outta here. I don't like to work for my reading.

If the writing is powerful enough, I will ignore some wtf moments. So I'm suggesting looking at ways to improve the writing or getting rid of the gaping holes - so to speak.

And it's all my opinion - nothing more.

Robin S. said...

OK- just went and looked. I don't always read through the queries- as I rarely have help to offer that could/should be considered meaningful. I usually just check out your blue lines and have a good grin, and leave the query help to you and the others who can actually, um, help.

Well - this seems to be a case of what I believe - that queries and the novels of which they 'speak' require two different skill sets.
I like the opening a lot. I thought the query was weak, an dit didn't interest me much (bearing in mind my own weakness in query knowledge).

My point is, if I had only the query to go by, I'd pass if i were an agent. If I read this opening, I'd ask for pages.

Robin S. said...

Hey Sarah,

You're such a sweetie. I see what you mean- and it's simply a matter of personal taste sometimes.

I tend to like quirky stuff, because, oddly enough, I think it's more true to life than the true to life stuff ever is.

Whirlochre said...

Yes - the White Widow is intrusive.

Otherwise - this has a good internal logic.