Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Beginning 576

The douche bag Chet Waverley was duct taped to a patio chair in Barkman’s kitchen. It wasn’t the best tape job Barkman had ever done. Too much around the ankles, not enough on the wrists, and though he’d had plenty of tape for a makeshift blindfold that would surely remove Chet Waverley’s eyebrows, there had been none left for adhering the chatty motherfucker’s lips together. Barkman chalked it up to being out of practice.

While Chet Waverley confessed in explicit detail to masterminding numerous money laundering schemes, Barkman added the words “Duct Tape” to the magnetic grocery list on the fridge. Satisfied, he capped the pen and placed the heel of his shoe on Chet Waverley’s groin.

A near complete silence befell Barkman's condo, spoiled only by the dull hum of the fridge and a rhythmic eruption of spittle at the corners of Chet Waverley's mouth as he began to hyperventilate. Barkman leaned in closer. “I don’t care about all that, Chester," he said, and applied more pressure with his foot. "Let’s talk about your inadequate parenting skills.”

"You little shit," gasped Waverly. "When your--"

Barkman buried his heel in Chet Waverly's groin, ignoring his cries of pain. Then he took the last of the chocolate cake out of the fridge and headed back to his room. Why, he wondered, does Mom keep dating such losers?

Opening: blogless_troll.....Continuation: Khazar-khum


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuation:

"And while you think about your answers," he went on, "here's something else for you to consider."

Barkman opened the kitchen door and Chet Waverly's three kids walked in. Barkman was hopeless with the tape, but Phoebe, Adam and Nicole had toilet roll centers, tissue paper and glue.

"Alright!" Chet Waverly shouted, beaten. "Enough! I promise, next time I'll check their pockets before putting their jeans in the laundry. OK?"


"And I'll replace the bills I washed."

Barkman smiled as Chet Waverly slumped down in his chair.


Evil Editor said...

Commas around Chet Waverley would keep it from sounding like Chet was duct taped to a douche bag.

“I don’t care about all that, Chester," comes too long after the confession, so that the reader may have to reread to figure out what "all that" refers to. Possibly you don't lose much if the second paragraph goes:

Barkman added “Duct Tape” to the magnetic grocery list on the fridge while Chet confessed in explicit detail to masterminding numerous money laundering schemes.

“I don’t care about all that, Chester," Barkman said, capping his pen and placing the heel of his shoe on Waverley’s groin.

It seems odd, if the guy's real name is Chester and his nickname is Chet, to call him Chet when writing about him, but Chester when talking to him. I would expect the reverse or Chester always.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Nice one, BT. Got me going and wanting to know more.

Great continuation.

Anonymous said...

Love both--great voice in the opening, just a great, vivid picture. And the cont. is hillarious. Well done.

batgirl said...

Aside from one or two small stumbles, as EE points out, this opening hooked me - and the continuation is brill. I love snappy succinct continuations (they aren't easy to do, either).
One additional quibble: 'befell' means 'happened to', not 'fell', and its archaic tone doesn't quite fit in this very contemporary setting.
I thought douche-bag was hyphenated? Especially if it's being used as a compound adjective.

ChrisEldin said...

This is really, really good BT. I'm hooked!
I like EE's suggestions, and two more nits: the words "adherence" and "befell" sounded out of voice to me. But that could just be me.

Wanting to know more about those parenting skills...

*thumps self on head. duct tape! yes. that will keep the kids quiet*

writtenwyrdd said...

OMG that continuation was hilarious!

I like the voice and the humorous tone of this, but the first sentence almost lost me. I think you have a ton of great stuff in that first sentence and the first paragraph, but opening with "the douche bag" made me pause to blink. I had to force myself into the reading.

I think you can improve the sentence by removing the douchebag reference and calling the lawn chair a chair. "Chet Waverly was duct taped to a chair in Barkman's kitchen." Even better, switch it so the pov character is the one that has primacy in teh sentence: "Barkman duct taped Chet Waverly to a chair in the kitchen."

After that, I think it might be more useful to reorganize slightly so that the writing focuses on Barkman's observations about his bad and out-of-practice taping job. particularly, using the passive voice with "It" to start the sentence pushes the reader out again when they're already struggling. The humorous voice is what sells that paragraph to me, and the writing doesn't quite lead me into that with "it wasn't the best tape job Barkman had ever done. too much around the ankles, etc."

Also, "while Chet Waverly" might be just "while Waverly" and you might consider tightening up that extremely long sentence.

My attempt at a revision, which you should feel free to ignore:

"Barkman duct taped Chet Waverly to a chair in his kitchen. While the douche bag confessed in explicit detail to masterminding numerous money laundering schemes, Barkman eyed his handiwork and decided he was out of practice. Too much around the ankles, not enough on the wrists, and though he'd had plenty of tape for a makeshift blindfold that would surely remove Chet Waverley's eyebrows, there hadn't been any left for adhering the chatty motherfucker's lips together.

"Barkman added "duct tape" to the magnetic grocery list on the fridge" is a great line and I'd like to see it stay, but if you use my revision, it needs something to logically connect it because the out of prctice bit is already used.

Lots to like here, but the main flaw to me is that the pov focus is off.

Hope this is helpful. I liked it, and I liked the WTF transition with that last line of dialog. As in, where the heck did that come from? And I expect from the other stuff we've seen that it's going to be funny as all get out.

Dave F. said...

Would it kill anyone to not start out with a "was"?
Chet Waverley sat duct taped to a patio chair in Barkman’s kitchen. Barkman regretted using too much tape on the ankles and not enough on the wrists, he truly regretted not having enough duct tape to adhere the chatty mofr’s lips together, but the duct tape blindfold stood a good chance of ripping the eyebrows and perhaps his eyes right out of Waverly's face.
Chet Waverley confessed in explicit detail to masterminding numerous money laundering schemes. In response Barkman pressed his heel hard against Waverly's groin.
“I don’t care about all that, Chester."

I have this thing about "was"...

I like the opening. I think that it's a bit long because I really want to get to something about why there's a man wrapped in duct tape in a kitchen.

And I agree with EE about the dialog having to be closer to "none left for adhering the chatty mf’s lips together" ...

benwah said...

Very good.

I like EE's suggestion; it dials up the tension a bit.

I stumbled a bit over the first sentence as well. Isn't douchebag one word or at least hyphenated? It's a bit of a jarring word; fits the voice, but what if you use it in place of the second use of Chet's name: "...makeshift blindfold that would surely remove the douchebag's eyebrows." Just a thought. Is it important for us to know that the chair is a patio chair?

I'm firmly in Dave's camp with regard to trimming the "was." But I think the pacing here is good; I assume we'll find out why Chester's tied up. Barkman's concern with parenting, not money laundering, is good and intriguing.

One nit to pick: "the rhythmic eruption of spittle" is presumable accompanied by the sound of Chester's rapid breathing. It's difficult to hyperventilate silently.

ChrisEldin said...

I like 'the douche bag'

Also like taking out 'was' and replace with 'sat.' It's subtle, but nicer, I think. (agreeing with Dave, in part.)

The douche bag Chet Waverle sat duct taped ......

I wouldn't mess with it too much because then your voice changes. And I really like your voice here.

Wow, I guess you're getting some comments that are all over the map.

Robin S. said...

Ha! I freaking love this.

You've got your voice going, BT, and it's going so much better than merely 'fine'! It's wry and funny as hell. Hope this is either a chapter opening or the opening to a novel of yours.

I laughed out loud here in Decorum Central when I read...numerous money laundering schemes, Barkman added the words “Duct Tape” to the magnetic grocery list on the fridge.

I'm not against 'was' - but I do agree the 'sat' bit mentioned earlier might be helpful - I think it grounds the reader quickly so the scene is immediately visualized.

I disagree about the Chester thing. I like it just as it is - Chet is a nickname that takes the sting out of being named Chester, so calling a guy Chester is an annoyance for said guy, and thus, is fun to do when said guy is, in fact, a Chestery douche bag.

That continuation is a good one, by the way, KK.

Khazar-khum said...

Thank you to everyone who liked the continuation.

When I read the opening, all I could see was a little Calvin-type kid, apparently innocent, turning into a wild hyena the minute Mom leaves him alone with the jerk boyfriend.

I can't help but wonder how much duct tape the Barkman household uses each month.

blogless troll said...

Khazar-khum, hilarious continuation! He doesn't use much tape. It's only him.

Thanks everyone for your comments. Much appreciated!

chelsea said...

You had me at douche bag.

I'll say it again. (Channeling Joe Biden.)

You had me
At douche bag.


I have to disagree with anyone who told you to take it out. Keeping douche bag in the first sentence is exactly what separates this opening from anything I've read, and likely from many things an agent has been reading lately. Maybe because I hear the phrase often (more and more often lately. It's as though douche bags are reproducing exponentially), I didn't stumble over the first sentence at all. It literally made me want to read the book.

I mean let's face it. Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club didn't win the honor of being one of Miss Snark's "Best Books of the Year" by toning down the language.

This opening is good. This speaks to me. It makes me think, all these mainstream writers (I'm not going to name any names Stephenie Meyer) are sugar coating it for me, but you're going to tell it like it is.

That said, I don't think you have to use Chet Waverley's full name every time. And I have this inclination to start the second paragraph with "Thus," to smooth the transition.

I also agree that "I don't care about all that Chester" was a bit confusing, and made me wonder: Is Barkman responding to Chet's confession or his hyperventilation?

I want to

writtenwyrdd said...

Let me just explain that my objection to douche bag in that first line wasn't because it wasn't a great and hooky choice of wording, it was because the phrase didn't work as a whole.

Now, if you said something that was more from Barkman's point of view, like the following, it might work for me at least. Author's choice, as always!

"That douchebag, Chet Waverly, sat taped to the lawn chair in Barman's kitchen." (I think the 'that' makes a difference.)

Khazar-khum said...

Leave out "That".

'Douchebag Chet Waverley sat duct taped' etc.

scott said...

I was hooked too.

One possibility with the pov awkwardness is not to mention Chet Waverly's name at all, until Barkman addresses him as Chester in the third paragraph. Just call him "the douche-bag" before that.

I agree about getting the parenting skills surprise closer to the money laundering. One possibility is simply to remove this sentence, which did seem like the only one out of voice: "A near complete silence befell Barkman's condo, spoiled only by the dull hum of the fridge and a rhythmic eruption of spittle at the corners of Chet Waverley's mouth as he began to hyperventilate. Barkman leaned in closer." That leaves in the grocery list bit, which was nice.

batgirl said...

Agreeing with written that 'that douchebag' works better than 'the douche bag'. I too read it at first as Chet being taped to a douche bag (which, y'know, is a real physical thing found in ordinary households though not mine). With 'that' I'd read it as an insult, not an accessory.

Whirlochre said...

I'm with everyone else. This is wry and sinister and carpet bombs the reader (me) with questions. Hooked.

Not sure about the first line. It does sound like Chet has a douche bag taped to him, until you reach the 'to'. Also, I find the repetition of the whole of his name a little annoying and I'd go with Waverly after the first CW.

But, yeah. By duct tape and fridge magnets am I lured.

blogless troll said...

I see where the confusion on the first line is now. I didn't before because obviously I knew what I meant. Changing "was" to "sat" and adding some commas. I still like "the" better than "that". I was going for something along the lines of "the virgin Connie Swail" but I'll play around with it. Thanks again!

Brenda Bradshaw said...

I'm totally in Camp Douchebag.

That doesn't read well, but you know what I mean.

Beth said...

I think this would be improved by having some actual dialogue, even just a few lines, before Barkman gets around to saying, "I don't care about all that." It would make the scene more immediate and engaging.

I would also recommend dropping "douche-bag" from the first sentence, as it creates confusion.

Also, why is it "Chet" in the narration but "Chester" in the dialogue?

Wonderwood said...

BT! Great job. You know better than to drop "douche bag", I don't think you chose it lightly, and you probably researched the correct spelling, which I'm too lazy to do. Love the voice. The change EE suggested makes it better, but it was already damn good. When do I get to do a beta?

dana p said...

This is excellent. I'm hooked. It made me think of Elmore Leonard.

chelsea said...

Haha Camp Douchebag. Love it.

I wouldn't worry too much about the Chet/Chester thing. I mean, consider:

Where does one derive "Dick" from Richard?

How do you get "Bill" from William?

Nicknames are nicknames. The reader will deal with it.