Monday, August 21, 2006

New Beginning 85


James Stone rounded the corner of Kinetech’s main building, took a final pull on his cigarette and butted it out. He looked up at the moon and sighed. These perimeter checks were a matter of pride for him, but some days they reminded him of his old job. He stretched his legs briefly and went to his office to review the cameras. He didn’t want to miss anything.

There were ten of them covering the main corridors of the complex’s buildings. He clicked on the monitor to the right of the desk; it was hooked up to a hard drive that recorded the video feeds. He leaned back in his chair to view the footage.

About ten minutes into it, there was a discrepancy. He rewound the feed and watched it again. Something didn’t look right. He turned to the monitor bank and brought up camera four in building eight.

Incredible. Someone was actually pulling the "still photo in front of the surveillance camera" trick. A stunt so old, so simple, it might have worked. But not tonight.

He switched to camera five, watching with a sense of pride as the kennel doors rose smoothly on their automated tracks to release the blood-crazed Dobermans. Then he scrawled a note to the cleaning crew to wear hazmat suits when they entered building eight, and went for another cigarette break.

Continuation: J.E. Barnard


Anonymous said...

I think the author should keep the continuation!

Just kidding, of course.

It's interesting. I want to find out what the guy sees.

The writing could flow a little better, though I'm not sure how to accomplish that.

writtenwyrdd said...

I'd have kept reading this, but the visuals you give me of how he deals with the cameras doesn't sound quite right to me. I think it's because "he didn't want to miss anything."

Dunno, but having done this sort of work - it's boring. I don't get the enthusiasm. But that's just me.

As a side note, you can have alarms that record motion or other activity in an alarm zone. James gets back, and then he sees his main monitor lit up with a freeze-frame of the camera when the alarm went off.

Your way works too; mine is just state of the art. Both sorts of systems are still in use.

Bernita said...

He's doing a perimeter check with a cigarette?
Not smart.

Anonymous said...

You spend time setting up one location--the building corner, the moon, the cigarette--and then leave it immedately and have to set up a new location.

You might consider starting in the office, or as James is entering the office, so that your action happens in the first location you set up and not the second. The outdoors stuff feels a bit futile. It's over so quickly that it's not a scenelet in itself--less than a paragraph--and if you dropped it, you could give us a hint about James' office instead.

Beth said...

The writing is clean and clear, though also bland and a bit rushed. You have the right idea--to get something interesting happening on the first page--but the execution of it needs some adjusting.

First: start with him already in his office reviewing the cameras. The first paragraph is a throwaway. If you really must keep it, then beef it up--use it to build tension and develop character.

Second: be more concrete, more specific. The description of the setting (what little there is) is generic, utterly without color or texture. In your writer's toolbox you have many tools that will help you bring a scene to life; don't be afraid to use them.

Third: You are not writing deep within POV. Here especially:

About ten minutes into it, there was a discrepancy. He rewound the feed and watched it again. Something didn’t look right.

What discrepancy? What, specifically, didn't look right? I could imagine a hundred things and not one of them might be what he's actually seeing. You're shutting us out of his head at the crucial moment. We need to see (and hear, feel, smell, taste) what he does.

Anonymous said...

(T)here was a discrepancy and Something didn’t look right give the same information. I'd suggest chopping the second of those two sentences.

I also wondered how anyone could love security work. It's dull, watching nothing happen (which is what the security guard is hoping for).

HawkOwl said...

It's perfect "page-turner" style. It moves fast and free with nothing to snag on, so you go from page to page so fast, it doesn't even matter that the story is insipid. I didn't care at all what happens to this dude, but I got through the scene so fast, I didn't have time to care that I don't care. Very Dean Koontz. I love that kind of stuff for when I just want to idle my brain for a few hours. Keep at it. :)

And Beth - what's with the royal "we"? I totally don't need to see/hear/feel/smell/taste or otherwise be "in the character's head," much less "deep within POV."

braun said...

I like it. As HO said, it's good, competent thriller material. I don't see any problem here.

Although, I tell ya what, when he looks into that video feed - I so want it to be vampires.

Unknown said...

Needs more layering. If you're going to use your setting, then you'd best be more original and use all the senses instead of just one.

Beth said...

And Beth - what's with the royal "we"?

Ummm,'s meant to represent "we, your readers," I suppose. A habit, more than anything. Maybe (I realize now) a bad one.

totally don't need to see/hear/feel/smell/taste or otherwise be "in the character's head," much less "deep within POV."

Interesting. I totally do, if I'm going to keep turning pages.

Anonymous said...

Good writing, but I agree with marykaye and beth that you could start with him reviewing the cameras. Something like "After doing a perimeter check, James Stone went to his office to review the cameras. He clicked on the monitor to the right of he desk..."

Also, no need to state "there was a discrepancy" since you show this through his actions. "About ten minutes into it, he rewound the feed and watched it again. Something didn't look right."

writtenwyrdd said...

yes, I don't think I was clear: Good writing. I agree with hawkowl, the pace keeps me going. It's well suited to a mystery. Is that what this book is going to be when it grows up?

Anonymous said...

Not bad, but

I kept getting pulled out of the story by odd things--
"butted it out"-thinking of goats
"there were ten of them"--not directly after cameras, so not sure of the antecedent at first
"it was hooked up"--I'm too new to living in the modern world to figure that out without being told?
"he leaned view..."--so what?
"something didn't look right"--you've already told me there's a discrepancy.

There is a story and I'm mildly curious. But this opening isn't a great promise. (and I like sensory detail, not just a camera-eye view. I can go to the movies for that.)

PJD said...

There's a guy... something's going to happen. There are some more guys... something's going to happen. There are some monitors... something's going to happen with them, maybe. There's a hard drive. Isn't something going to happen? Ah, there's a discrepancy! Something's going to happen now, right?

I recommend starting at the point where something happens. I mean something besides butting, stretching, going, clicking reviewing, rewinding, and watching.

I think the style is clean and compact and will serve a thriller or detective type story well. If this is a thriller, don't beat about the bush. We already know there will be a discrepancy somewhere and something amiss. Tell us what it is, and use that to show us the character.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the input; a few of you brought up some very valuable things that I didn't catch a couple months ago, when I started rewriting the book from the ground up.

Actually, 'Safeguard' is a superhero novella. I'm about halfway though it. If you're all that interested, I'm at