Wednesday, January 17, 2007
New Beginning 193
My name’s Rudolph Reddin. And as you might imagine, I hate Christmas. Lucky for me, it’s still six months away from now, June 25th. It’s the best day for catfishing ‘cause everyone else is downtown celebrating peaches and shaking hands with the Mayor. We all know he’s crooked, but most people think it’s really something to touch a person with power. Not that our Mayor’s got much of that, less you count the power to get seated right away at Trudy’s biscuit house.
Diamond Bend River’s down at the end of High Street. That’s ironic ‘cause the river’s where kids come to smoke weed, drink beer and get into other kinds of trouble. I went down to the Bend early today when the sun just peaked through the tree line and most kids were still nursing their hangovers at home.
All but one, that is.
I saw him just after I cast my third line of the day. A lump of coal black in the scruffy tangle of the riverbank weeds. I probably shoulda spotted him after my first or second cast, but my seein’ ain’t so good.
I phoned my partner, Hemlock, who, as you might figure, hates Arbor Day.
“Not another one,” said Hem. “Want me to call the Sheriff?”
“Sheriff Eggbunny? Naw, he ain't recovered from Easter. I'll take care of this.”
I hung up and trudged through the tangle of weeds. Eggbunny would be stuck downtown for another hour at least. I unpacked my hacksaw and filet knives and set to work on the dead boy’s thumb. Soon as cast number four hit the water I got me a bite. Yep, best catfishin' day of the year.
Opening: Carmen Norgaard......Continuation: blogless_troll
Posted by Evil Editor at 2:40 PM
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Trouble is...I can see a dedicated and curmudgenly fisherman doing just that, the body's not going anywhere after all.
Well done, Blogless.
:D You continuators crack me up.
OK, I laughed at the first two lines of the beginning, too.
It's a rather slow start. I guess that's in keeping with the place and the character, but I wouldn't have read too much further if that dead body hadn't turned up.
Even with a dead body, I'm not sure I'd want to read a whole book in that style. And it's really hard to maintain; see the last line of the beginning, where all of a sudden good ol' Rudy starts talking like a writer.
Good bait for a great continuation.
I really like the drama of this opening--finding a dead body in graf four would certainly keep me reading.
I also like the narrator's voice. Especially, "...less you count the power to get seated right away at Trudy’s biscuit house."
I wasn't sure about most of paragraph 1, though. It slows down what quickly becomes a killer opening, and the opening joke feels... well, a little forced. I mean, as a reader I'm aware that you named your character Rudolph Reddin for the very purpose of making that joke. And that throws me out of the story. The joke would be better delivered later in the novel, when we've already accepted that this guy is Rudolph Reddin, not when you're still trying to win us over with the authenicity of your world.
I'd definitely read on. Good luck with this!
I liked the voice in this, but what was a bit troublesome for me was that it was a loaded with telling. Now, in this case I feel it worked...mostly. There's just a little bit too much I thought. When we get to "All but one, that is," I immediately thought you meant the narrator. Then we see another person. So you lost your credibility with me.
I have no idea where this is going but the coal black lump hinted at a dead body.
Eww, eww, eww! Blogless! Ick!
OK, liked the tone, but didn't like the content of the first few sentences. Lots of tellin'. Could you start at the last sentence of para 2 and let the rest emerge?
I'd cut everything except for this:
June 25th. It’s the best day for catfishing ‘cause everyone else is downtown celebrating peaches and shaking hands with the Mayor.
I went down to the Bend early today when the sun just peaked through the tree line.
I saw him just after I cast my third line of the day. A lump of coal black in the scruffy tangle of the riverbank weeds.
That's your opening. Fix it up. The rest is window dressing that cuts into the action and drama. Your narrator can retell the story in the middle of chapter one with all the funny stuff.
I like the funny stuff. It's good and its entertaining but it belongs after the body is found. you see, they have to disturb the mayor because the dead person is known to the mayor. The police can talk about the river being a drug hangout. That's information for later in the story.
fix up those lines and set the stage for your narrator to find the body.
Dave nailed it.
Er, Dave, window dressing is a component of the art of writing. This is a story, not a newspaper article. If I was the author I'd tell you to work on fixing your own openings rather than rewriting others.
Author, what Dave said. Once I read his comment, I realized that it kind of bothered me that the curmudgeon narrator would hang out in the vicinity of drugged-out teens. And if he didn't, how would he know?
Eggbunny? Eggbunny?!! Troll, I'd buy a book featuring Sheriff Eggbunny in a (cliche alert) New York minute. What a hoot.
Thanks, tia, but Eggbunny was EE's addition. I don't know about the Evil part, but he's got the Editor thing down.
I didn't say get rid of all that window dressing. It's nice window dressing. It's good stuff. It just comes after the discovery of the body. The discovery of the dead body is the reason to read the book. I think it's what sets the plot into forward action.
My writings have nothing to do with this opening and are not for comment here.
It's not necessarily "just funny stuff," IMO. It's telling a little about the town and how things are in it--character and setting building. In the first paragraph I'd leave out the "We all know he's crooked" because that's hitting-you-over-the-head telling and just start with "Most people think..."
Would this character really describe something as being "ironic"? Might he not just say, "It's a good name for it 'cause that's where kids go to..."
"Peaked"? Or "peeked"?
I don't think it needs cutting so much as a little polishing and getting deeper into character.
Yeah, I guess a dead body in the fourth paragraph is waiting waaaay too long to get the action started. Why bother with trivial stuff like setting a scene or a mood or a character. Put the body right there in the first paragraph or else you'll lose the attention of the reader. Who wants to savor the writing anyway? What the hell was Raymond Chandler thinking?
Pick a fight with Dave, get an intellectual a$$whoopin'. -JTC
Thanks for the feedback on my opening, everyone! I appreciate all of your comments.
A quick clarification on the medium, though. This isn’t the beginning of a novel; it’s a short story, a cozy mystery around 4k in length.
Great continuation! I’m very pleased.
I can't agree with Dave about cutting everything but the bare bones of the exciting incident. Some of it could go, I think, and benefit the story.
But in a cozy, in particular, voice and the protagonist's character are a huge part of the draw--often mose so than the plot. And the author has set them up so charmingly here. If I were her I think I'd try to walk a middle ground between Dave's opening and my own--cut to the chase, but without losing the magic. Just my two cents.
Thank God nobody invented the internet sooner. At least we have some writers from the past who weren't afraid to write their own way. In the future it looks like only the formulaic rule-followers with car crashes on every page will survive these critiques.
Most don't take it so personally or get their panties in a knot because they realize this is (must I say it AGAIN?) the EVIL Editor's blog. Get it? Evil. -JTC
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