Friday, September 16, 2011

New Beginning 884

The head of the pedestal fan panned left and right from the corner, pushing the hot air around the stuffy room. Jake Wilson would've left the windows open, but the searing wind outside would seep in, making the summer night even more unbearable. And with the air-conditioner broken, he had to compensate with a towel-cloth and a shallow basin filled with iced water.

Jake rose from bed for the tenth time during the night. He wiped his arms and face with the drenched cloth and plopped back down, leaving it splattered over his face like an overstreched pizza dough. Maybe this time--with the cooling cloth over his face--he would finnaly get some decent sleep.

But within minutes, the cloth had turned warm and the coolness from the wipe-down had evaporated. He started perspiring again and was itchy from the sweat trickling down the sides of his neck. The nights in January were never ususally this bad, but tonight just seemed hotter for some reason.

You know how if you cook a frozen pizza in the microwave but you accidentally set it for six minutes instead of three and then you slap it onto your face, cheese side down? And where the pepperoni was you'd have these round blisters on your face, like chicken pox only bigger? Ostrich pox? That's how hot it was.

Christ, it was hot. Although it was always rarely this hot. Sweat poured off Jake like he was lying in a pizza oven in the Outback. Where was the damn air conditioner repairman? 24-hour service my ass, Jake thought. He's probably sitting in his air-conditioned truck downing a cold one while I'm--

The doorbell rang. About time. He jogged through the living room to the front door and pulled it open.

But it wasn't the AC guy. It was the Dominos guy. "Careful with the box," he said. "It's very hot."

Opening: Afiq.....Continuation: Evil Editor


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

Jake tossed the towel in the direction of the computer. The webcam light was still on. Figuring playing a game or two might make him tired, he brought himself to the computer chair and shook the mouse, chasing the screensaver away. The monitor displayed a live feed of his apartment under the banner of his site Jake: 24-7. He clicked on the number of

"Well," said Jake, "if I want to get any hits I guess I'll have to do more than just fucking around."


Evil Editor said...

P2: "Overstretched" and "finally" spelled wrong.

P3: "Usually" spelled wrong.

"Never usually" is confusing. You want "rarely" or "seldom." Or exaggerate and just say "never."

Tonight just SEEMED hotter? After three paragraphs of how hot it is, it just SEEMS hotter than usual?

The whole opening can be condensed to one sentence. Depending on your audience and Jake's character, that sentence would be one of the following:

Man, it was hot.

Christ almighty, it was hot.

It was hot as shit.

I assume from the fact it's summer in January that we're in the southern hemisphere. If we're in an alternate universe, that would make this more interesting, but only if you tell us.

Dave said...

Warning NSFW!
This opening reminds me of Robin Williams doing the "It's Hot" interview from "Good Morning Vietnam."
BTW - Robin is a little profane - NSFW.

It's hot, what's next.

BuffySquirrel said...


Whirlochre said...

I can see what you're driving at, but your momentum is like a lawnmower struggling uphill against a swath of Jovian sludge.

Too many typos and unecessarily distracting uses of passive voice here.

I appreciate your enthusiasm but must pass on account of being mired.

vkw said...

Jack Wilson is uncomfortably hot from an unusually hot summer in Australlia. He gets no relief from the oscillating fan or a broken air conditioner.

I've been hot before. I know searing wind from the south sucks the air right out of my lungs, as it singes every living thing to a crispy-crisp, shrunken shadow of itself.

I don't have an air conditioner to fix. I, also unlike Jack, must endure the unsufferable sound of my dogs panting throughout the night, painfully aware that they are suffering more than me. And, also painfully aware that I can no more fix there predicament than my own.

I don't give sh*t about Jack and I bet you don't care much for my suffering either. (Sorry just had to say it. It was just too obvious not to say. My apologies.)

The difference is - I want to care about Jack. Give me a reason to care.

Anonymous said...

There are a few countries in the Southern Hemisphere other than Australia. And some of these warm up in the summer, too.

batgirl said...

When does something happen? You might want to start when something happens.

vkw said...

To Anon 6:47 - very true, but since the author didn't give me a location, I assumed that it was OZ.

Is it my fault, I got it wrong?

Afiq said...

Hi, author here.

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I'm still fairly new to this writing gig, which is why I'm here to improve as much as I can.

I was wondering if there were any other glaring problems with the writing other than the typos and the passiveness of the prose. I was unsure about ditching the pizza dough reference; I thought it sounded a bit silly but left it there anyway.

I have to admit, it does sound dull as it is. I purposely made it slow because a paragraph or so afterwards, a bushfire threatens Jake's residence (the story's set in Australia).

Would it be better if I jump right into the bushfire scene instead of trying to pre-heat the oven? (I loved the continuation, EE)

Thanks again for the brutality.

Evil Editor said...

You could start with something like: The last thing Jake wanted to know, as he lay in bed on the hottest day of the decade with his air conditioner on the fritz, was that a bush fire was about to burn down his house.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I agree w/ Ms Squirrel.

Dave said...

What's the first action that happens in your story? That's what the opening should use to grab the reader.

If you go back in EE's archives to 2006 and start backwards with
October, look for postings of "Old Beginnings" which are the first few hundred words of various famous novels. August 2006 is a good month to look at first.

It's a lesson in what excites you and what entices you to read the rest of the story. Go pick out your favorite novel and see what the first page reads like.

BuffySquirrel said...

Start at the point where he realises the heat isn't just the weather, it's also a fire that's about to kill him.

Afiq said...

Okay, thanks for the additional advice. Will take those into consideration when rewriting the opening. :)