Thursday, February 08, 2007

New Beginning 211


My first encounter with Cincinnati had been a family affair. This was the city where, at the age of thirteen, I had first seen an operatic performance of Romeo and Juliet with my parents. My brother and I had been told we were expanding our horizons, and we were expected to enjoy it. So, in overdrive pretend mode, a skill utterly necessary for psychic survival in my family, we had driven up north, up to see an evening amphitheatre production in the Cincinnati Zoo, and by God, we were happy and grateful to do it.

My second encounter with Cincinnati was an interview with the Playboy Club on my twenty-first birthday. I ended up with a name change and propped-up pantyhose boobs.

I had arrived there at the suggestion of Hoof-Lamp Man. A man with the basic instincts and needs of Neanderthal Man - if Neanderthal Man had instinctually needed to ski in the Rockies, grow his own weed, drink Chivas Regal, and bed Bunnies.

My final encounter with Cincinnati came when I was mugged and shot twice by three members of the Cincinnati Bengals. I had received a ticket to their football game from webbed foot-futon man, and though I'd heard about the Bengals' criminal tendencies, I hardly expected them to attack me while the game was in progress. And they definitely got off easy with that fifteen-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you. If I hadn't been shot, I never would have met the surgeon I married: big toe-probe and retractor man.


Opening: Robin Sinnott.....Continuation: EE

26 comments:

Dave said...

What happened to names like John and Dick and Harry and Butch and Sundance and George and Evil Knievel.
I'd even settle for Sebastian and M'Tombe' and Pierre or Raul (the goat boy).

But Hoof-Lamp Man?

Does he own horses or sell headlights for cars?

I'm sorry to be so flip, but I hope there is a pressing reason for all these strange monikers.

(PS, love the continuation - 15 yards, should have been half the distance with loss of down)

Saipan Writer said...

Ah, EE, You picked the Bengals instead of Jerry Springer? Of course, he fooled around with the hookers across the river in Covington, but still.

Author,
There's a strongly nostalgic tone to the opening. I liked the first paragraph and couldn't wait to get into this YA novel.

Then the second paragraph jumped over the story I thought was coming and gave us a slightly different take on the narrator-psychic survivor with expanded horizons, rebelling conventionally.

And then the third paragraph, which I expected to take us to the present day encounter with Cincinnati, to keep the rhythm set by the first two paragraphs, seems to continue the story of the second paragraph. And introduce the persona with a clunky name:Hoof-Lamp Man.

Basically, this opening was a let down for me. Write the story of the first paragraph. Or give us a three paragraph beat for your opening. jmho.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Hi,
I enjoy your weblog very much, but since you added the cover of your second book to the sidebar, it has made the text of the topmost post illegible. (The text is superimposed over the book cover images.) I've tried several browsers (Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, Epiphany, Camino--everything but Microsoft Explorer, which I cannot access) and had the same problem.

I hope you don't take offense (in fact, I'm rather frightened by your ruthless wit), and I wouldn't bother to comment if I didn't enjoy your blog so much. You might resize the book cover images, or perhaps some artful html markup might do the trick.

pacatrue said...

I'm going to write less than normal and not attempt humor:

I liked it. I'd keep reading.

BuffySquirrel said...

In Firefox, the graphic of the new book appears under the text of the Beginning, making it hard to read.

Bernita said...

What are "pantyhose boobs"?

bonniers said...

Oooh, love it.

I used to live next door to Hoof-Lamp Man. Except he was calling himself Bud-man in those days. I was never sure if he got up early on powder days, or just never slept. He certainly never turned his stereo off.

cm allison said...

Bernita,
Bck in the days, when Carol Doda was getting injections, BEFORE implants, to fill out Playboy Bunny outfits often the wearers of said outfits would wad panty hose into "falsies". Bingo, larger boobs.

(Nope, not the author, just trivia from my sordid past.)

Anonymous said...

What are "pantyhose boobs"?

Non-surgical augmentation?

GutterBall said...

I'm not usually one who harps on passive voice, because it does have its place. But this opening could nearly be cut in half if you took out all the "had been"s and "were"s. It would probably flow a little better, too.

Just my two cents. I expect change.

And Dave, as far as my knowledge of the NFL rulebook goes, so long as they didn't shoot either the kicker or the quarterback, they shouldn't have been penalized at all. 15 yards was just the league sucking up to the fans.

stick and move said...

I wasn't bowled over by the opening, all three paragraphs were backstory, and gave me no indication of where the story was going, other than something's going to happen in Cincy that involves a a former Playboy Club Bunny. The Bunny part is probably enough to keep me reading for another paragraph or two, though. The continuation had me laughing though. Nice job EE!

McKoala said...

I also expected YA from para 1, and an expansion on the opera story - because the phrasing of the last part of the last sentence of that para puts them on their way to Cincinnati. The expectation is that the next para will be an incident in the car, or them arriving, or some such. There's nothing wrong with misleading a reader for a moment or two, but the writing made this more jarring than surprising.

I may have expressed this badly. Head not working today.

whitemouse said...

It's all backstory and telling, but y'know, it pulled me in anyway. The content was interesting enough that I wanted to know more about the person speaking.

I thought the first paragraph was the weakest. It was a little too long and started with a pair of very dull sentences. I think it would be improved by trimming off the front end. I'd suggest starting with the sentence:

My brother and I had been told we were expanding our horizons, and we were expected to enjoy it.

That sentence was the first intriguing one in the paragraph, and things continued to be intriguing from that point forward. You don't really need to say anything that comes before that.

If the Romeo and Juliet reference is important, you can tweak the sentence that comes after the one I listed above.

By the way, I was confused on my first reading by the word bunnies. Coming so soon after the mention of the Playboy Club, I assumed you meant Hoof-Lamp Man bedded Playboy bunnies. On my second reading, I think you meant ski bunnies - although I'm not sure, because you capitalised the word bunnies.

Anonymous said...

So…this afternoon, I take my daughter to an interview in Georgetown, work out at the gym, grab a salad with my husband and daughter, laugh at Michael Scott making an ass of himself on The Office after watching Jim train Dwight as the 2007 version of Pavlov’s dog…

and I think, hmmm, let me check to see if there are any more comments on the story posted on a blog I’ve been really interested in recently - New Beginning 210 – the first blog comment I’ve ever made was on this story opening- just today- and then I look and…there’s a New Beginning 211, and it’s mine. With a continuation by the great EE himself.

You all seem to be seasoned members of this cast of characters – hope you don’t mind a little company.

EE – gotta love the mental picture of retractor man. Thanks for that!

Reading the comments was interesting. Allison- you are, of course, right on the money about pantyhose boobs. Back in the day, if the rest of your body looked really good in your blue velvet bunny suit, it was a good bet you were only chesty if you had been, shall we say, enhanced, whether surgically, or with pantyhose wadded up to prop you up to make you look bigger than you were. I think this is funny as hell – and I feel perfectly comfortable saying that, for what I hope is an obvious reason.

Gutterball, I looked at the “had beens” in the first paragraph, and kept them, as I hoped there’d be a nostalgic feeling to the very beginning. Not sure it worked.

Bonniers –thanks –glad you enjoyed it – this Hoof-Lamp Man is based on someone I once knew – for some reason he saw himself as a hyper-masculine prototypical western man; believe me when I say, there were hoof-lamps in his living room. Maybe he’d planned on entering his home in a Rocky Mountain Lodge look-alike contest –but we were in the northern South. Maybe he and Bud Man moved to the Rockies together. You never know.

Whitemouse- thanks for your comments. This opening is a distillation of a chapter opening in about the center of a book I’m trying to finish by late March or so– there was a little more to this – but the chapter wraps up any loose ends. I rewrote that last sentence after seeing it – it didn’t look or sound good to me. So it became ---

Hoof-Man had the basic instincts and needs of Neanderthal Man - if Neanderthal Man had instinctively needed to ski in the Rockies, grow his own weed, drink Chivas Regal, and bed down beginning Bunnies.

Oh, and by the way, I didn’t end up with retractor man. I married a Brit. If he owns a retractor, he hasn't shared.

Thanks,

Robin

Evil Editor said...

You all seem to be seasoned members of this cast of characters – hope you don’t mind a little company.


We welcome you. Feel free to participate in any way, from providing continuations, Guess the Plots or comments to submitting openings or queries, to lurking in the background.

Bernita said...

Thank you, CM and Anon.

E.S. Tesla said...

I love this opening.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Georgetown, Texas?

Welcome to the Minions, Robin. I'm wondering if you're a Robin I know.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Looks great now. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the welcome notes, EE and Brenda.

This Georgetown is the neighborhood in Washington, DC, so I don't guess we know each other.

But my ex is from Texas, just like the song. He's a tall guy with a genetic makeup that could only happen in the States - Norwegian, Dutch, Irish and Comanche.

Robin

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Well, Robin, we know you now :)

GutterBall said...

Gutterball, I looked at the “had beens” in the first paragraph, and kept them, as I hoped there’d be a nostalgic feeling to the very beginning. Not sure it worked.

It's a matter of personal taste, Robin. To be honest, I usually roll my eyes when someone shouts about passive voice. It's impossible to avoid in some cases, and it doesn't detract from a story if used sparingly and properly. But a few of these hit me as editable.

Again, just a matter of taste! Like I said, I didn't expect anyone to take the whole two cents. Heheh.

batgirl said...

gutterball, do you mean passive voice or past perfect tense? Both are used in this opening.

GutterBall said...

The past perfect tense, I suppose, is what bothers me here. Again, there's a time and a place for both, but both seem to detract from the otherwise tight writing here, in my opinion.

My first encounter with Cincinnati was a family affair. This was the city where, at the age of thirteen, I first saw an operatic performance of Romeo and Juliet with my parents. My brother and I were told that we were expanding our horizons, and we were expected to enjoy it. So, in overdrive pretend mode, a skill utterly necessary for psychic survival in my family, we drove up north, up to see an evening ampitheatre production in the Cincinnati Zoo, and by God, we were happy and grateful to do it.

It still keeps the nostalgia without seeming so...passive. I guess it's the tense that gets me instead of the voice, but past perfect can make a flashback scene like this sound weak. Does that make sense?

Again, past perfect can definitely improve a piece, so I'm not saying to never use it. Just...be wary.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Gutterball.

I see what you mean. It does sound smoother, tighter this way - and there's still the feeling of nostalgia that I wanted.

I appreciate you taking the time to post this.

Robin

Robin S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.