Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Beginning 925

It began as a gentle night with the dark clouds caressing the tops of trees and buildings. There was no moon or stars but blinking yellow hazard lights lit the sinkhole in after-images of oranges and reds. Street lamps left pools of soft half-formed cars and shrubbery formed in the mists. Black defined the sinkhole, an inkwell of black, a vortex of ravens' wings swirling down into the earth. Rookie patrolman Colton Hollenbach stood guard, contemplating the adventure of diving in the sinkhole.

"Damn that's deeper than it looks in the newspaper," Asher said. Colton jumped and clutched his chest. Asher could see the vein in Colton's neck thumping with fear. He felt stupid for scaring him, too cheap a thrill.

"Where did you come from?"

"Sorry Dude. Did it flash again?" Asher wore a wet suit under cargo pants.

"Only seems to do it after midnight. Anyone else here?"

"Wowona gets off duty when Tank and the twins stop working."

"Tough Lady, she makes the Chief's balls shrivel." Colton put his hands over his manhood and winced in mock pain.

"The twins, not so much." Asher pumped his closed fist at his crotch and stroked, mocking his friends.

"What did the cards say? Exploring the sinkhole a good thing?"

"Sinkhole, stinkhole," Asher replied. "The cards said dick about it. But wait'll I tell you what they said about exploring the twins."

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Wilkins MacQueen


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

Wowona sighed. "I can hear you, you know," she said, exasperated. "And for the record, I did not make the chief's balls shrivel, or anyone else's; neither of you assholes is going to do any exploring; and for fuck's sake stop calling me 'The Sinkhole.'"


Evil Editor said...

P1: "Street lamps left pools of soft half-formed cars and shrubbery formed in the mists." Get rid of this or reword it.

P2: One could easily get the impression Colton jumps and clutches his chest because of what Asher says, rather than the fact he had no idea Asher was there. Which leaves us wondering why that's so scary.

P6: Not clear whether he's saying that Wowona has left because Tank and the twins have stopped working, or that Wowona is around but will be leaving as soon as Tank and the twins stop working.

Who or what are Tank and the twins?

P8: What does "mocking his friends" mean? What friends?

The mention of diving in the sinkhole and wearing a wetsuit leads me to assume the sinkhole is full of water, thus making it hard for Asher to claim it's deeper than it looks in the newspaper.

The flashing and the cards are intriguing, but too much is confusing. Add a dialogue tag or two.

Anonymous said...

This creates the impression your story is about guys showing off their self-groping skills. If that's not the intention, maybe you need to start with something else.

Dave Fragments said...

I like the continuation. Exploring he Twins might be too erotic to handle. And whoever Anonymous is on the unchosen continuation got her character down to a "T"...

Asher and Colton and four friends will dive into the sinkhole and then the story will take existentially absurd turns.

The sentence in the first paragraph about street lamp shadows is gone. In the choice of more or less words, less won.

Asher walks up on Colton when Colton is daydreaming about being heroic in the sinkhole and/or famous when they find the cavern beneath. I fixed the opening so its obvious in the story. It was mostly in my mind rather than on the page. Now its on the page.

Wowona, Tank and the Twins (Quint and Kent)
I reworded that sentence to be clearer that they all work together. Wowona is outspoken and more ambitious than the three men.

Asher and Colton will come to regret their mocking their friends but that will be short-lived because they have no great regrets, or passions, or memories.

Asher is Romany and lives in a trailer park with his Romany relatives like a giant clan. His Aunt is matriarch and has read his Tarot for his future.

Laurie said...

Personal preference for me, but this opens with a lot of description. I'd make the last line, introducing the character and situation, the first line, and then follow with the description, and I'd cut a lot of that - I like the bits that focus on the sinkhole, but I'd keep the rest of it brief.

Some head-hopping going on here - I may just be too trained into close third, but switching from Colton's head to Asher's threw me a bit.

A lot going on here that's confusing, a lot of names being thrown around, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. As long as, when these people show up, I get more detail on them, I can wait.

I'm intrigued by the sink hole, and the fact that they're doing card readings in advance, which gives a nice occult flavor. I'm not sure if I like these guys or not, but I don't need to know that right off.

The important thing, the story, sounds like it's working so far. Everything else is niggling.

Stacy Beauregard said...

Okay, I'm a pretty avid reader, and this is only my opinion, but:

1. Black defined the sinkhole, an inkwell of black. How about "An inkwell of black defined the sinkole". Less is more. If you are repeating the same concept for stylistic reasons, do change the second "black" maybe? An inkwell of darkness? And what's the vortex have anything to do with ravens' wings swirling, and do raven's wings swirl? That line stopped me and had me trying to figure it out. And I failed. Maybe it's my ignorance on the subject of swirling ravens' wings.

2. I think the last line of the first paragraph should be the first line.

3. Paragraph 2: everything after Colton clutched his chest needs to go. I get it. He's scared. You're making me feel dumb, as a reader.

4. Speaking of paragraph 2, are you using omniscient POV? You jumped from Colton to Asher POV. One more reason to nix Asher's POV (if you are using Colton's POV), which backs up point #3.

5. Reality check: how does one tell how deep a sinkhole night? Or even during the daytime, for that matter? Once again, it stops me from reading, and has me pondering.

6. Being a diver, I've never really worn a wet suit beneath cargo pants or clothes. But I'm assuming this kind of diver does. Once again, has me stopping and thinking. By the way, how does Colton know Asher is wearing a wetsuit under cargo pants? And why are you telling us this, can it not wait until a more appropriate time? Does it have any relevance at all to the immediate conversation?

7. Wowona. I really hope that name was chosen for a specific reason which a reader will find out later in the book. Wowona. "Wow, wow, wow, that's a big baby girl coming out!" said the mother as she delivered. "I'm calling her Wowona!" Wait...I'm assuming it is a girl's name? Once again. Stops me and has me thinking.

8. "Colton put his hands over his manhood and winced (in mock pain)" and "Asher pumped a(his) closed fist over (at) his crotch (and stroked, mocking his friends)."
All in parentheses can go. Redundant descriptions. You have a tendency to over-describe, in my humble opinion.

9. You're telling, not showing, when you have characters telling us about other characters like Wowona or the twins. Simply because the telling is being done in the context of dialogue, that does not make it showing. But I'm assuming you're already aware of that, and that there is a good reason why you chose to do this on page 1.

But I must tell! No you don't. Not right now. Stick to showing me what's going on besides them tugging at imaginary penises.

Is this a first draft?

Potential? Yes. I want to know about the sinkhole. But there is a lot of immaturity in the dialogue and action, and too much description. Something unique to first drafts. I would suggest reading some books on structure and plot pacing, as well as POV if this was intended for anything other than omniscient POV.

Dave Fragments said...

So that's what happened...
Just after I finished my remarks and was trying to post it, BLOGGER changed the comment moderation to two words.

Dave Fragments said...

thanks for the comments.
1. Black
I changed that paragraph to illustrate that: a) ravens are always harbingers of doom, b) the sinkhole keeps swirling down into something beneath, and c) give the sinkhole some size because it swallowed six RR cars when it opened.

2. ...the last line ... should be the first line.
500 words later in the story, the characters surface on a world with a red sun on one side and a blue-white dwarf sun on the other. I want all that black imagery to play against red imagery later in the story.

3. Paragraph 2... Colton clutched his chest...
I cleaned all that after EE's comments but thanks for making me return and be sure of the changes.

4. Paragraph 2: POV...
Oooops, this was the first draft on paper.

5. Reality check... sinkhole depth...
Personally, I think they're crazy but I fixed the description of the sinkhole to give it size (swallowed six RR cars) and the water is always flowing.

6. I've never really worn a wet suit beneath cargo pants or clothes.
They are hiding the "expedition" from the authorities. Who in their right minds do this? Not me. Not you. But these 20-somethings are a bunch of flakes. So to get from apartment to sinkhole, they wore street clothes over wet suits so they would be stark naked while changing on the streets. Also, they think there is a cave down there and they are going to change into dry clothing. I never said they weren't slightly bedazzled by the possibilities. They are so in love with finding a huge, unexplored cave and presenting it to the media, etc.

7. Wowona...
Because I didn't want to name her Shoshona or Juwana or Mathilda or Betty or Christina. So after deep (?) thought, I named her Wowona. The name fits her and her story. This is the only time I will say cope with it. As far as I'm concerned (and in any story) unless a name is so mismatched with the character, it's author's choice. That includes Mister Tumnus, all those names in Tir Na Nog and the Tuatha De Danann, droogies, wookies, Calots, banths, Nessie, and lots of other monikers that afflicted my childhood and teen years with brain freeze. Sorry about that. I'm usually very easy with suggestions but when I pick a character's name, I also write their characteristics and history. Again, sorry about that.

8. Over-describe...
My problem with first drafts is very definitely over description. EE needed openings and I was struggling with the entire story, so why not send it. EE's efforts make me focus on the story and overcome writer's block.

9. You're telling, not showing,...Stick to showing me what's going on besides them tugging at imaginary penises.
I will. It will take time because when they lose their friends to various misfortunes later in the story, they regret their behavior.

10. Is this a first draft?
Yes. And I do appreciate and will use all these comments as I work through the revisions.

BTW- I have a bad "t" key on my computer and sometimes it doesn't register and I miss it on rereading. So "the" becomes "he" etc...

And BLOGGER did change that moderation word for the worse. What a pain in the butt.