Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New Beginning 590


Death was reborn in the slender man who stalked the shadows. A thin bead of sweat trickled into the corner of his eye, stinging and making him blink. He blotted his face with a handkerchief, but it didn't help much. It was midnight, and still more than a hundred degrees outside.

In the desert, lightening burst, bloomed and withered. Death watched, face lit in planes and shadows. Lightening was the power that surged within him; he could feel it firing the rage inside. The glorious incandescent moment when his true nature emerged, filling him with purpose, his victims unaware, until they balanced on the razor's edge, that they were dancing with Death himself. Then the flash back into nothingness when he was finished, gone with no trace until he was ready to strike again.

The killing time was almost upon him, and he chafed at this last, small wait, even while the anticipation tortured him with thoughts of the pleasure to come. Then, a distant sound - his discomfort was forgotten; he leaned forward to listen, until the meaningless noise resolved itself into the quavering voice of his prey, an old man singing softly as he shuffled down pavement still sizzling three hours after the sun had set.

The old man's voice got closer. "...O'er the fields we go, laughing all the way... Ho, ho, ho..."

Death jumped out of the shadows and locked his empty, black stare on the old man's face.

"Oh my..." The old man said, startled. "What's this?"

"Do you not know me? You bring joy to millions and you don't recognize your antithesis? I am Death!"

"Death? Let me see; have you been naughty or nice?" The old man checked his list. "Says here, you tricked hundreds of people into giving up their souls this year."

"Well, yes, but--"

"And that you cast thousands of people into a lake of fire for nothing more than thinking impure thoughts."

"But--"

"And that you were solely responsible this year for the pain and suffering and anguish of billions. Billions?"

Death blushed with pride. "Guilty," he said. "But with an explanation."


Opening: Debhoag.....Continuation: anon.

27 comments:

Kiersten said...

Lightning.

There's no "e". Let's all spell it together! Sorry, it's a really common mistake, but makes you look very unprofessional.

This was interesting, and I liked the first paragraph, but after that it started feeling overwritten to me. If you take out some of the description (glorious incandescent, back into nothingness--gone with no trace) that is repetitive, the things that are good, like "pavement still sizzling three hours after the sun had set" will stand out rather than being overwhelming.

debhoag said...

Thanks, Kiersten! Someone else pointed out the lightning thing to me right after I posted. Duh!

Merry Christmas!

Kiersten said...

Don't you hate that, Deb? Those things always sneak in and you don't notice them until it's too late! But that's a really, really common mistake. No worries.

Merry Christmas to you, too!

Anonymous said...

My only real grip was that I had to try and decide if the Death bit was metaphorical, or if the guy was Death incarnate who'd just jumped into the character's body. It comes across as a bit trying too hard.

The omniscient pov implies that you can tell us Death's real name, if he has one.

BuffySquirrel said...

I felt that the second sentence et seq detracted somewhat from the ominous tone of the first. If it's meant to, then okay :). If the reader's meant to find Death scary and/or intimidating, he probably shouldn't be fussing over sweat in his eyes.

Xenith said...

Agree with Buffy & Anon. The style of the second sentence is lighter than the first, and I couldn't work out if it was referring to the same person.

It was midnight, and still more than a hundred degrees outside.
And he's not boiling? :)

It's a bit too dense for me. Possibly if I'd slept last night it might make more sense, but it's sort of incoherant at the moment.

Anonymous said...

I'm fairly certain the occasional extra e isn't gong to get your manuscript rejected. There are lots of things that will (like crappy writing). E's thiers, they'r, and penuts give people who can't write something they can do. You are much more gracious than me (suprised?)

It comes across as a bit trying too hard.

Anon; Death is methaphorical. Our MC's real name is (insert drum roll) Death. Of course anon was trying to be polight by using the passive voice; comes across as a bit trying to hard. Anon, lets try it with an active voice; Your trying too hard. Ouch. (notice how, when the writing gets better, the comments geat meaner. No "this has potential for you.)


If the reader's meant to find Death scary and/or intimidating, he probably shouldn't be fussing over sweat in his eyes.

Probably shouldn't: Ignoging the passive agression the question isn't whether death should or should not sweat, but Can Death Sweat?

If death can sweat, how much sweat does death sweat? And does he use deoderant?

It's a bit too dense for me. Possibly if I'd slept last night it might make more sense, but it's sort of incoherant at the moment.

What is this passive agressive day. "I didnt' sleep" and if I had sleep maybe you wouldn't suck- (but what I'm really tring to say is I have fangs. They come out when good writing appears. I'll be the first to say "this has potential" when the writing is retarded. But, you, my friend are competition. Lets be friennamies. I'll post nasty things about your writing and since it's a public forum you have to tell me thank you when I say "you suck".)

And he/she/it??? is right. It's a public forum and social decorum says he have to say thank you. I vote for this method: Thank You, it might be because you haven't slept but your words are incorhernt. Or maybe it's not the lack of sleep, but that you were born dense, either way I heard this doesn't suck. I hope you don't mind.

This doesn't suck at all. In fact it's quite good. It flowed nicely and while I can see the point about it being over writen. My point however- I didn't notice it was over writen until someont pointed it out. And brings to mind the forest and the trees. But I digress.

Good work. Write on.

Steve Stubbs said...

Well, the continuation was good anyway. I always wanted someone to kill Santa Claus. Doggone overweight elf.

The first part is just overwritten for the type of effect I think you are trying to create. It's a good idea, but you are trying to establish a sense of impending menace and instead you have given us an attempt at poetry. I always feel impending menace whenever anyone writes poetry, but that is not the kind you are wriggling for. How about starting with Death's Intended Victim, and then sock us with an - oh, yeah, Death is getting ready to strike. And trim the prose. We want to smell the victim's sweat. We want to cackle madly as he looks this way and that, hoping to escape his fate. We want to - well, you get the idea. Make us feel the fear. Make the hair in some embarrassing place stand up.

And give us some reason to care what happens to this old duffer, anyway. Who is he and why do I care if he gets it or not?

Kiersten said...

Anon 9:21, thanks for all the typos. It made me smile ; )

fairyhedgehog said...

I liked the line about the sweat trickling into his eye, although I wasn't sure how this fitted in with the character being Death. In fact, I found that most of the first paragraph appealed to my liking for simple, direct language.

I get that it's hot (100 degrees Fahrenheit, I assume) and that this character takes delight in killing. I'm not sure yet if I'm meant to see him or the man he's about to kill as the main character. I think I might find it hard to read a whole book with an unsympathetic MC.

I did feel a bit confused about what was going on the first time I read it but then I do get confused easily.

To anon 9:21 - I found the "lightening" typo distracting, so I'm guessing that's why people picked up on it.

BuffySquirrel said...

Anon, if you're going to come here and bitch at everyone, at least get your comments right. That isn't passive voice, k?

Anonymous said...

I thought it was interesting that from the get-go, the character had too many human frailties to be an incarnate angel; yet, he had the driven purpose of the Angel of Death. That made me want to read further.

Darn English/metric units. People in centigrade-land don't think of 100-degrees as 'dang hot' but not that unusual in the desert or anywhere is the SW, SE or Southern US.

--Bill H.

Dave F. said...

I would alter the second paragraph to something like this:

In the desert, lightning burst, bloomed and withered. It fire the rage within him. A glorious incandescent moment when his true nature emerged and filled him with purpose. He struck his victims like lightning. They stood unaware, until balanced on the razor's edge, that they danced with Death, then flash into nothingness. When he finished, he hid his rage until he was ready to strike again.

Sometimes, the more vivid the image, the fewer words it takes to explain.

BTW - getting into a car that has sat in the Las Vegas summer sun at 110 F (I think that's about 44 C) is a real treat if you have to sit on vinyl upholstery.

debhoag said...

Maybe the first anon [i]is[/i] death incarnate. That would explain a lot. I look forward to posting on EE, because I get a major kick out of the comments, good, bad and sarcastic. And, Anon #1, I'm gonna take your comments and tape them up on my wall. Have more eggnog, and Merry Christmas!

Xenith said...

but what I'm really tring to say is I have fangs. They come out when good writing appears.

Only when good writing appears? I'm slacking :(


(Admittedly I prefer to criticise good writing because the writer just has a few weak spots that need polishing, rather than needing to work on everything and anything, but shhh don't tell anyone that.)

Xenith said...

Sometimes, the more vivid the image, the fewer words it takes to explain.

Only sometimes? You're slacking, Dave. I's say the most vivid images usually come from a couple of well chosen words.

(I don't think I'd be going anywhere near a car at 110F, the smell they put off at lower temps is bad enough.)

Dave F. said...

(I don't think I'd be going anywhere near a car at 110F, the smell they put off at lower temps is bad enough.)

HAH! It's better than walking ten miles on hot asphalt.

Xenith said...

HAH! It's better than walking ten miles on hot asphalt.

You have a point. On the other hand, I don't think I've ever experienced a 110F day, walking or in a car (104 was enough, thank you)

debhoag said...

Dave has shown up! Now my crit experience is complete! Happy Holidays, Dave!

Dave F. said...

I was at my Mother's for Christmas Eve and Day dinners. I more or less cook. There's no internet at her house.

I like this opening but I think it's a little fat. I think that
He blotted his face with a handkerchief, but it didn't help much.
reads better as:
His handkerchief blotted sweat that never dried.

This is my argument against "had" and "was" and tiny little words like that. They spread out sentences and thoughts and feelings. They diffuse meanings and images. Most times, writing benefits from removing them or replacing them and making the meanings and images sharper, more distinct. Now not always, but most times.

Dave F. said...

I hit the send button too fast on that last post. Deb, I hope your Holidays were as enjoyable as mine. Thanks for the nice comments.

Julie Weathers said...

I thought the end was hilarious, but the beginning was overwritten.

Remember the Beverly Hillbillies? I can't remember the cousin's name, but she was Jethro and Jethrine's mother and she sewed all those dresses for Jethrine. Bows upon bows upon bows, upon ruffles, flounces, lace and frill.

When you distill description to some delicious small details, they pop out at the reader much more.

Anon 9:21. I'm still trying to decide if your post was a joke or not.

Little things like "lightening, they'r, accept instead of except etc," do make a difference. Your words are you stock in trade. If you don't know how to use your tools, they are going to be suspect about how sturdy this house is you just built.

talpianna said...

Xenith, in the summer here in the Valley of the Sun, we've been known to get above 110° for weeks at a time--and it's gotten above 120° a couple of times! Usually the lows don't get down below 90° when it's this hot.

Every summer there a a few tragic stories of children left in cars who die of heatstroke. Usually it's because there's a large family and everyone thinks that someone else brought the baby in; but once a woman left her kid in the car while she went into a casino to gamble.

Jennifer said...

It's a provocative opening but the overwriting slowed me down. I think in the quest for original imagery, clarity suffers. For example: "In the desert, lightening burst, bloomed and withered." I had to reread that sentence. (I think the "bloomed" was the culprit.) Once I did, I thought it was a cool way to say it, but I don't think you want people to have to reread to "get it." (Lightning itself would come and go faster than it takes to read that sentence.)

Xenith said...

You wonder about people sometimes. I have heard such stories about the Big Islad to the North, but fortunately never when I'm visting I don't think I've ever had it get much over 100 F.


(Now in my home city, I believe the max temp ever recorded was 36 C (97F) and the lowest about -6 C (21 F), which probably sounds rather nice but it's not. I'd rather take a triple figures day anywhere else than 95 F here, thanks. Weather is strange stuff.)

(

debhoag said...

Talpianna, this has nothing to do with writing whatsoever, but right now I'm up to my ass in snow in flagstaff. Four feet, no kidding.

talpianna said...

Deb, I believe you! The ski-resort owners must be dancing in the streets--if the streets have been cleared yet.

I was born in Watertown, NY, just a hoot and a holler from the Canadian border. We have photographs from back then with snowdrifts up to the second-story windowsills.