Friday, August 13, 2010

New Beginning 776

Death is nothing, its life that scares the hell out of me. I am not afraid to die. I am actually looking forward to it. Going through the motions of life, well that’s the hard part. You would think with my current profession I would be worrying about dying all the time, but I don’t. When people keep telling you that no one wants you, you end up believing it and you could care less what happens with your own life. In karmas own fucked up way I think I’ve lasted this long because I don’t care what happens to me. So what if I die? Who is going to care? Some bureaucrat in Washington D.C.? Doubtful. I'm twenty-five and I’ve been doing this for much of my adult life. I don't remember the first six years of my life, but I can tell you that I was found by police officers in an alley in Miami Florida on a hot summer night. After that it was a blur of foster homes and juvenile centers, all of which I tried like hell to get out of each time they put me in one. I think that may be why I choose to be an assassin.

"Ah, let me stop you right there if you don't mind. Excuse me while I . . . Uh, Violet? Would you be a dear and call down to personnel? They've messed up my request for an assistant again."


Opening: Sharon R......Continuation: anon.

21 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:


The first target I can remember taking down was SpongeBob SquarePants. All those late night scuba lessons were worth it when I brought my harpoon gun level with his bulging white eyes.

"Time to die, fish-fucker," I said.

He backed away from me, his sallow yellow skin flapping like a fart in an old woman's buttocks.

"Is this about the crank I took?" he asked. "I can pay you double what Boss Tentacles offered, I promise! Even with today's housing market, if I take a third mortgage out on my pineapple..."

He was still gibbering when I squeezed the trigger. You can bet his pants weren't so square after that.

~Unrepentant Escapist

BuffySquirrel said...

Okay, dump all the repetitive stuff at the beginning and start with, 'I can't tell you much....'

That'll be better.

(word ver: quessnur = how questioner will be spelt in 100 years)

Evil Editor said...

A couple missing apostrophes in "it's" and "karma's." And more will be needed if you change "I am, "I am," "You would," and "Who is" to contractions. Which would sound better, as this isn't formal; it's conversational, like a voice-over at the beginning of a movie, character talking to audience. Or to psychiatrist.

That said, it goes on too long, partly because it's repetitive and partly because the part about the childhood doesn't fly as a reason to become an assassin. You could condense this to:

Death? I'm not afraid of it. I think I’ve lasted this long because I don’t care if I die. No, it's life that scares the hell out of me; I think that may be why I choose to be an assassin.

Dave F. said...

This opening has a very masculine tone. If this is another variation of Le Femme Nikita which is a rich source of plots, then you need to indicate the femininity of the assassin. A woman talking of killing for hire is colder and more ruthless than male assassins. Think about the character's tone. Mumsie isn't supposed to be a stone cold assassin.

BuffySquirrel said...

Ah, gender equality, what a distant dream thou art....

If the opening has a masculine tone, what leads you to think it's a female narrator? oh, right, female author. that'll be why.

Dave F. said...

If the opening has a masculine tone, what leads you to think it's a female narrator? oh, right, female author. that'll be why.

No. Don't ascribe motives like that to anyone.

First it was the statement the author made:
I was found by police officers in an alley in Miami Florida on a hot summer night. After that it was a blur of foster homes and juvenile centers, all of which I tried like hell to get out of each time they put me in one.
This made me think this was a boy at six. Boys are more likely shuffled through various foster homes because the misbehave more openly. Also, there isn't a hint of attempted sexual abuse.

Second, the entire narrative sounds very authoritarian and alpha-male to me. It wouldn't be the first time I misread the sex of a narrator. I read Lisbeth Salander as masculine for a number of pages and the author may be giving a character that type of voice. I liked Lisbeth Salander as a character. I thought she had more depth than Blomkvist and more common sense than most characters I read.

La Femme Nikita is still hot as the sun in writers minds. Someone, I don't remember who, is going to another remake the movie. Dollhouse was a well-received version of La Femme Nikita. The current series on USA is a version of La Femme Nikita. Reversed versions are In Plain Sight or The Closer or the very, very different Rizzoli and Isles (an anti-Nikki).

Not that male assassins and undercover types don't exist. There are shows in abundance with men in the lead. Deep Blue for one.

However, I simply thought in all the revision the author might do, one might be to lean the reader towards a non-stereotypical heroine (or anti-heroine in this case).
It didn't have some deep, dark, hidden psychological meaning.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

I agree with EE's edits, partly for repetitiveness and partly because I find it strange that the first thing out of your tough guy's mouth is a sob story about his/her miserable childhood. It feels like a passive aggressive bid for pity, which is an odd way to introduce your bad ass assassin.

Unless this person is an unreliable narrator, I'd save the personal revelations for a later moment and start with some action.

Dave F. said...

The name of the current series on the USA network is COVERT AFFAIRS. I seem to have left it out of the second comment I posted.

BuffySquirrel said...

There must be some significance to your determination to cast the narrator as female, despite all the evidence to the contrary. And what have tv shows got to do with it?

Also...there isn't a hint of sexual abuse? wtf? how does THAT determine sex?

Dave F. said...

There must be some significance to your determination to cast the narrator as female

None at all. It's Sharon R's story and I would read it regardless of the sex of the narrator.

BTW - I had similar thoughts to Sarah From Hawthorne but didn't have a good way to put those thoughts to paper. I agree with her remarks.

BuffySquirrel said...

All I want to know is why are you so sure the narrator is female when you are equally sure that they sound male, but you keep evading the issue. As for thinking you have a deep psyche...no, not at all!

Dave F. said...

I don't want to carry on a discussion like this in a comment thread:
1) It's got next to nothing to do with the opening or helping it be better.
2) It takes too much of my time.
and 3) It was my impression that all.

batgirl said...

This is kind of minor, but why assassin? I mean, I think of an assassin as being someone who kills prominent politicians or celebrities - or else as a follower of the Old Man on the Mountain, but the police and juvie details make this modern.
Is s/he an assassin or a hired killer / hitman?
Assassin as a trade also suggests a fantasy setting, with an Assassin's Guild along with the Thieves Guild. I don't mean there aren't assassins in our world, but they tend to be one-off crazies, not entrepeneurs.

Other than that, what everyone else said - this could be majorly tightened and it would be better for it.

BuffySquirrel said...

Well, I'm glad we cleared that up....

Author, starting with narrative summary is always taking a risk, but the 'I can't tell you much...' line is strong. I just hope we're going into a scene pretty soon. We are, right? :D

Sharon R said...

Thanks for the suggestions! In the next paragraph you find out that the narrator is a woman and that is when the action starts. I wanted to give a little insight to the events that lead up to this point, but I will put that off until a little later on. I really just wanted to know if it was interesting enough from a reader stand point. I'll get back to the rewrite :)

_*rachel*_ said...

I think you could pare this a lot, maybe just cutting from "hard part" to "I don't remember."

I think Dave has a bit of a point, here. I first read this as masculine, but I can see how something like this could, in sounding very masculine, sound feminine.

For example, I'm in Ju Jitsu. It's a very male-dominated sport, and mostly for that can be pretty awkward. Because of that, I de-ephasise my femininity. I keep my hair up (mostly for utility). I don't talk, except about what we're working on. I am, as much as I can, an impersonal practice partner who's there to work and improve, even if I am a girl and it is awkward working on moves where you're on top of me.

Because of the situation, I remove myself from my femininity. In some situations, I'm sure other women do and may actually overdo this. There are people and narrators who so emphasize their strength, brutality, whatever, that it shows them more insecure in their masculinity than actually masculine. This is the case where I wouldn't be too surprised to find that a masculine-sounding narrator is actually a woman.

Anonymous said...

Small point here - how do you know you were found on a hot summer night if you don't remember it?

I was found on what had to be a hot summer night, July in Miami, Bluwater Bay etc., according to the date on the sketchy police report and so on.
Screw it down tighter.
Bibi

Anonymous said...

Sharon,
Try starting with the action you say is in the next bit. I bet that will give a stronger beginning. Liked the voice and I didn't care if it was he or she. I like an interesting mc.
Got an "oh no" on the early childhood rundown. Doesn't move the story along for me because I don't care how he/she got all growed up. Dropping hints in the story if it's useful works better for me than laying it all out in the first para. Clearly something happened to turn the mc into an assasin. I want some action in the first para to draw me in.
Best,
Bibi

Kings Falcon said...

I really liked the opening 4 sentances lines. They were a great hook for me.

I was a bit disappointed that you didn't then tell or show me why "going through the motions of life" was the hard part. You also got a bit coy in saying "my current profession" rather than just saying "as an assassin." The rant about who would care if the MC were dead weakens the character.

My two bits:

Death is nothing, its life that scares the hell out of me. I am not afraid to die. I am actually looking forward to it. Going through the motions of life, well that’s the hard part. I'm twenty-five and I’ve been an assassin since I was (age).

Then jump into the action.


As written, I'd probably give you a few lines to see if the MC lives up to the voice in those first sentances. But if she's more like the rest of the section, I'd put the story down.

Good luck.

LSimon said...

The thing that stuck me was the narrator (male or female) being 25 and doing this "most of his/her adult life...that's what? 3 years? 5 years at the most?

Beth said...

So what if I die? Who is going to care?

Not me, I'm afraid.

Way too emo.