Tuesday, March 06, 2007

New Beginning 236

Ed opens the door of his parents’ bedroom. It’s 9.45 in the morning and the sun is shining through the curtains and there are birds singing. It’s a beautiful June day but Ed doesn’t see because he’s overwhelmed by the stink of booze, it gets up his nostrils, he can feel it invading his hair and trying to worm its way under his skin. And when he gets closer to his sleeping father there’s another stronger smell, sharp and yet cloying, and Ed realises it’s the smell of urine. His father has pissed himself in the night.

Ed almost pukes then, not just because of the piss but because he’s pumped up, he’s been dreaming of this day for five years, maybe longer, and he can’t cock it up now. He retches, swallows it back down. His legs are shaking, he’s not sure he can do this.

“Are you getting it so far?”

Denzel Mackeson muffles a cough and gives a thin smile to the dark-suited man across the huge mahogany table. “I . . . I’m not sure . . . ”

“Keep watching.” They both turn back to the screen.

It’s 10.30 in the morning now, and Ed and his father are out in the sun. Ed’s father is wearing white denims and a black leather jacket stenciled with Where The Wild Things Are. Dark aviator shades protect his eyes. He scratches his three-day stubble and belches. Ed grins. This is what Ed’s been waiting for. His father swings his leg over the huge Harley hog sitting on the driveway and starts the engine.

“Aaaaand . . . Close up of the father’s butt. Voiceover: 'Depends Active for Men -- For Real Men.'


Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Anonymous


Bernita said...

Consider changing "there are birds singing " to "birds are singing."
The slang "cock it up now" confuses.

E.S. Tesla said...

the cock it up mean this is gay porn right?

just checking

writtenwyrdd said...

I don't like the present tense, and although I got it, "cock it up" juxtaposed with the father's butt isn't good at all-- unless you want readers to think the kid is planning on buggering his dad??

As a suggestion, don't have the kid trying to vomit; have daddy in a pool of his own. The kid can be sickened, but it is a bit confusing to have him vomit when dad is the passed out drunk. Maybe switch that to"gag"??

Anyhow, the prose is flabby. Some of the sentence structures are odd, in particular the sentence beginning "it's a beautiful day but Ed doesn't see..." You also say it's his parents' bedroom...so where's mom for the (I presume) murder?

I was interested in what was going on despite the problems, and presumed the kid was going to kosh daddy in the back of the head. He's obviously a drunk and one can assume has given cause.

The continuation was hilarious. It tapped right into the present-tense voice and ran with it.

shaded-lily said...

Intriguing opening, hilarious continuation.

Author, I agree with bernita about the birds. And the comma splices are probably intentional, you're using them to emphasize the urgency, you wouldn't want the reader stopping for a semi-colon. OK, but IMHO this story moves on its own.

Robin S. said...

I really like this opening.

I like the sentence structure as well as the content - the "gets" are done really well- "the stink of booze, it gets up his nostrils, he can feel it invading his hair and trying to worm its way under his skin. And when he gets closer to his sleeping father there’s another stronger smell..." - great rhythm.

I want to read more.

The continuation is done really well - are you two Anonyomous people related?

Anonymous said...

Okay, so you turned the Gloominess Hose on full blast and established that dad's a late stage alcoholic, kid's a puker, and we're going to be treated to unkempt bodily fluids, mental impairment, ennui, and cussing thoughout the first act, at least, probably the whole book.

What else ya got?

Is the kid's Big Goal -- Suicide? Homicide? Driver's licence? Bank robbery? Join the army? Go off to Honduras with the Peace Corps? Marry BettyLou? Destroy the space ship in the back yard?

If dealing with an alcoholic is your whole plot, I'd never buy your book. Misery is not my genre.

Stacia said...

Sheesh, anon, that's quite an assumption. It's only the first 150 words.

I know they have to grab us, but they're not the entire plot. For all you know, this morning is the catalyst that sends Ed out to sunny California, where he meets a wacky group of misfits and creates a media empire based on tales of their adventurous lives and lots of fruity non-alcoholic cocktails.

Anonymous said...

If this is inconsistent with the tone, style, voice, and subject of the book, the author should definitely start with something else. I'm not going to read a dirge just because it's dismal. Disease and impairment seem to be popular with the MFA set because they're so "non-genre". But a disease is not a plot, which is what you would need to keep me reading. So your characters are messed up. Do you also have a plot? Yes or no? Vague allusion was made to this being a long anticipated day. You might keep my attention by changing that vague allusion to a clear declarative goal statement so I have a clue what else you got. Otherwise, I'd already be stuffing that SASE and turning my attention to the rest of the slush.

Robin S. said...

Hi Anon. 12:53 pm.

Well then. So the last line of this 147 word opening- "His legs are shaking, he’s not sure he can do this" is not a clear enough declaration that something is just about to happen?

And I thought dirges, by definition, were dismal little ditties. Guess I was wrong.

And you want a yes or no on the presence or absence of a plot in 147 words that are not a query?

Interesting. It would be even more interesting if you weren't anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Imho, the trouble with opening with this particular scene is that I (as a reader) am left with the lasting impression of vomit and piss--and that's it.

I'm not in a "vomit and piss" mood today, and chances are an agent/editor may not be in a "vomit and piss" mood when they're slogging through slush. I'm asking myself why I want to spend time in the head of this person? Give me that reason, and I'll wade through all the vomit and piss you can spew.

I'd suggest getting the anxiety of the pov character up front *first* tell us what he's afraid of doing, legs shaking and all that (thereby hooking your reader)then move on to his father's condition.

Anonymous said...

..not sure he can do this...

The rest of that paragraph is about trying not to barf, so as far as I can tell "this" goal is to keep the puke down. If he's thinking to do something interesting like kill the old man or save the world from dragons, I would want the author to lose "this" and say what the goal is, already. Instead of being so coy about it. Yes.

Robin S. said...

Hi Anon 2:50 pm -- and, I'm guessing, Anon 12:53 pm -

So, you're saying you think that what Ed has been dreaming of for five years is grabbing at his one big chance for a really good and thoroughly satisfying puke, rather than thinking that Ed is trying to keep from puking because of the combination of his father's piss smell and his nervous state?

All kidding aside, if it's not something you'd represent because you're just not a puke/piss kind of person, fine.

Obviously the visualization and the scents that come to mind when reading about puke and piss aren't terribly fetching. I'm there with you on that one. But I don't think that means the writing isn't good, or that I wouldn't wait a few more lines to see what was being set up to happen.

I was simply taken aback by the comments made earlier - by the voice that came through for me in phrases such as… "a disease is not a plot". I'm all for constructive criticism and a healthy dose of skepticism. But anonymous disdain, well, I don't quite see the point.

McKoala said...

I'd have to read more to make a judgment on this; this is really visceral and I'm not sure it's for me. Depends on what Ed does next.

I'm not a lover of the present tense, but in this situation it might be appropriate - like I said, I'd have to read more - and isn't that the aim?! I also wondered where Mom was?

Clever, clever continuation!