Saturday, August 05, 2006

New Beginning 44

“I didn’t kill her,” Mason Bailey said, gulping down his third Glenlivet in a row.

How many times had she heard those words? Dozens. But not from the mouth of a United States senator. For all Whitney Steel cared, the man could drink himself under the table, but not until she got what she’d come for. An exclusive.

A steamy blast of wind kicked up under the turquoise awning shading the patio. She sipped a frosty lime daiquiri, mesmerized by the brutal way the early afternoon sunlight magnified every line on Mason’s tanned face. God, he was too old to choose the Pink Flamingo Club for a rendezvous. “Of all the reporters in Panama City, let alone Florida, why me? We cut our ties years ago.” And our losses, she wanted to add.

“I know I can trust you.” He turned his head to one side and slicked back his gray hair. “Besides, we were married once. That should count for something.”

"It does," Whitney assured him. "It counts for six strippers, two secretaries, my sister, and the pool boy."

"Aw, baby, don't hold a grudge." Mason signaled for his fourth scotch. "You done good out of it, for a third-rate pop singer with round heels."

"Oh, I've put that behind me." Whitney smiled past her icy drink. "I'm just here for the story. What are the Democrats going to do in '08 now that you murdered their probable nominee?"

"I told you," he said. "I made fun of her huge calves, I pinched her chipmunk cheeks. I mailed her maps of New York to help her get home. I even helped her model her health care plan. But I didn't kill her!"

Opening: Kim.....Continuation: J.E. Barnard/Dave Conifer


Anonymous said...

Please don't use dialogue to have characters tell each other things they both already know, as in "Besides, we were married once." That's an automatic book-closer for me. Also, "Of all the reporters in Panama City," etc., sounded way too much like Rick's line in Casablanca "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world," etc., not to make some kind of play off it. So, despite a strong first line, this opening dialog isn't quite working (for me).

Otherwise, you set up an intriguing situation--high stakes, personal conflict, a sleazy politician--that definitely gets attention. These elements in combination with the Florida setting make me expect something along the lines of Elmore Leonard or Carl Hiaasen.

Annie said...

I agree completely with anonymous. When characters exposit with dialogue things that should be explained in narration, I close the book. People don't talk like that in real life, and unrealistic dialogue is my number one pet peeve.

I like the concept of this set up a lot -- I greatly enjoy both murder mysteries and political intrigue -- but the dialogue in general worries me. I'm not sure I'd read past this point without some major modifications.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the others. That line, "besides, we were married once", is a real eye-roller. I also agree that the premise sounds interesting though.

Bernita said...

Had a slight problem with "But not from the mouth of a United States Senator" and I'm saying to myself "But, but, didn't she just hear it from the mouth of a US senator?"

On the other hand, "Besides, we were married once" strikes me as just the sort of thing a half-drunk sleeze bag in trouble and needing a favour would trot out in a feeble attempt at emotional blackmail - whether it's something they both "know" or not.

Beth said...

I like this. Fix the dialogue (the others were right) and you've got a winner.

And I LOVED the continuation. [g]

Anonymous said...

I loved the "I'm just here for the story" dialog from Whitney in the continuation. Awesome.

Macuquinas d' Oro said...

Please please change her name. Or kill her in the next chapter. I can't stand the name "Whitney Steel."

The point about trying to work backstory into dialogue is absolutely correct. It rings false and invariably kicks you right of the story.

You want to tell the story from the reporter's POV--your choice-- but when you give the person she is talking to such a strong presence and dialogue, we are naturally drawn to his perspective. This is fine point perhaps, but I would think about doing more to establish her presence in this scene.

You have an interesting story.

Anonymous said...

What kind of person gulps down single-malt scotch? If you're going to be gulping, you drink something cheaper. If you've plunked down the cash for the good stuff, you sip. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

I, otoh, was fine with the "we were married once" line. It sounds like emotional blackmail (as someone said) and rings true to me.

I really liked this, all the way (including the continuation). For myself, I'd continue to read.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I've been skimming most of these beginnings because none really caught my attention. This one, on the other hand, did. The "besides we were married once" line didn't bother me because I read into it that the guy was trying to butter her up and convince her to do something. This is an excellent beginning and I would love to read more, so hurry up and get this published! ;)

Anonymous said...

Her retort to "we were married once, that's got to count for something" was awesome! Saved the whole thing for me, I'd read more after that.

magz said...

Sounds good! I had no problems whatsoever with the dialogue, where I come from people DO talk like that, especially when they have a history with each other.

Where can we read more of this story?
Regards Author, (and strokes to the continuer, that was funny!) Maggie

McKoala said...

I tripped up on the 'of all the reporters in...etc. - the Casablanca thing. It just seemed a really unnatural expression.

none said...

The kind of person who gulps single-malt is, I imagine, someone to whom the difference in price makes no difference.

Unknown said...

Good job, writer. I had no problems with the "we were married once." It's characterization . No problems with the gulping of single malt scotch. Once more, it's showing a character trait.

Once more -- good job.

Also loved the continuation. Funny.

Anonymous said...

I'd read on. With the 'dialogue' in question, or without.

Doesn't sound like 'emotional blackmail' to me, more like an appeal.

Of course, what do I know, I am just a nut.

Anonymous said...

I'd change "not" to "never" in the 2nd paragraph. Minor, but it means the difference between not hearing something a dozen times (which means she could have heard a senator utter these words 9 times) and not hearing it at all. And this early, maybe it's not so minor.

I'm intrigued enough to read on, but I'm bothered by the dialog that reads: "Besides, we were married once. That should count ..." It rings a little hollow, like you're using him to get across back story. I think there's a subtler way to introduce it in the precedcing paragraph when Whitney is thinking back 20 years ago. Why doesn't she bring it up then?

Or maybe you can let him bring out the fact that they were married, but he needs to do it in a much more inventive way. "You still owe me from pawning the wedding ring. Both of our wedding rings, if I remember correctly" or some such.

Good luck.

Linda said...

Mark--"What kind of person gulps single-malt scotch?", you asked. My answer--The kind of person whose only drink is single malt scotch. He's extremely upset. He gulps the drink to get the effects as quickly as possible. :)