Monday, March 12, 2007

New Beginning 238

As a young man, there were girls before the many men. Millie I had her first, with her soft supple goodness, her ability to smell like oranges in June. Then I tried Janet and Carry. I lied to myself about it occasionally, quite frequently – actually.

My first kiss was on the riverbank with Millie, I was sixteen. The sun was setting; we held hands and looked in each others eyes. We leaned into each other – the kiss; it was all slimy and squishy and tasted like peppermint. I pulled back but she seemed to enjoy it and want more.

I didn't understand kissing.

We went – all the way, a few nights later at a party. All the way was funny, I knew where to put everything; I knew where everything needed to go, that is – I didn't miss … let's just say. I knew where to touch her and hold her and make her feel special with just the right touch.

Jessica paid the barman and, without a word to the polyester-suited creep next to her, took her drink and headed back to her table. The old "I think I might be gay but I'm not sure" line might have worked on Millie and Janet and Carry, but it sure as hell wasn't going to get him into her pants.

Opening: Alex Geana.....Continuation: Anonymous


Anonymous said...

Author, this didn't work for me at all. Sorry. I didn't even get that the speaker was talking about being gay until I read the continuation. It got lost in the confusion, I guess.

What I thought when I read this was that it was very vague and lacking in any descriptions to pin down the action. Also, there is some awkward sentence structures that attract attention to the structure and distract from what you are saying. "Millie I had her first" is an example.

This needs editing and clarification. I wouldn't have read further, to be honest.

Anonymous said...

I read the first sentence three times, trying to figure it out. The second wasn't much better. So I skimmed down to the continuation.

Dave Fragments said...

Given the first sentence, "As a young man, there were girls before the many men." I think you go into overkill.

Why name the first girl and describe her in such detail? And then why name the second or third if they are backstory or ancient musings, or nostalgia?

The words between "Millie" and "Carrie" in the first paragraph separate the two sentences that make sense together. That is, he's had sexual experiences with women and lied to himself that he enjoyed it and wasn't attracted to men.

The "kissing" paragraph shows him as confused and clumsy. However, in the next paragraph he describes himself as technically capable of the motions but not with desire or emotion or satisfaction. It implies he wants more. He wants sex with a man.

I am guessing that is a subsequent paragraph and it should be paragraph number one. Sex with women felt mechanical and emotionless, sex with men is exciting and passionate.

And the single word "many" in the first sentence implies a great deal. Is he into lots and lots of anonymous sex with men? Does he have sex every night?

Anonymous said...

I'm with Anon. I read the first sentence so many times I couldn't even get to the rest, I just gave up. If I was still reading slush I'd have passed this one up after the first sentence. I wouldn't have bothered reading on.


Robin S. said...

Hi Alex,

undercover said - "I had trouble with that first sentence--were the girls standing in front of the many men?"

I had the same problem, so I needed to reread before I understood what you meant. What about switching the sentences around in teh firts paragraph--
something like:

Millie. I had her first...(and carry on through the paragraph), ending with the sentence - As a young man, there were a few girls, before the many men.

I think you could rework this and it could read really well.

Also, what about taking out the slimy and squishy description of teh kiss, and replacing it with something stronger, hovering between disinterest and distaste? Just an idea.

Robin S. said...

Damn. I can't type. Teh for The, etc. Sorry about that.

shaded-lily said...

"I knew where to touch her and hold her and make her feel special with just the right touch."

So, this is Fantasy?

Seriously, this beginning didn't grab me. The odd sentence construction and punctuation put me off. And the tone sounds like the rose-colored reminiscences of a sentimental, heterosexual, middle-aged man.

Anonymous, great continuation!

Anonymous said...

yeah, I'm with Theo: pure fantasy.

If some guy is saying that he knew just where to touch a woman his FIRST time, well there'd better a heavier dose of irony that I see here.

And the suggestion that what women want out of sex is to "feel special" rather to "get off"? Again, I'd want to see some evidence (and soon) that the narrator is being treated ironically or parodically.

Otherwise, it just seems too misogynist and too much like, as Theo said, some straight jackass going on about how much tail he used to get back in the day.

Brenda said...

I agree 100% with Theo on this.he

(Especially the fantasy part...)

Dave Fragments said...

I knew exactly what this first line meant. BUt the author should listen to the other comments.

And the statement: "I knew where to put everything; I knew where everything needed to go, that is – I didn't miss … let's just say."
Is straightforward to some of us. I knew at a young age that I wanted to ahve sex with men. However, that didn't stop me drom the social pressures of dating and ultimately intercourse with women. That's what you're hearing from the character. And let's face it, teens are so hormonally driven, that any halfway decent sex feels great. It's only later in adult life that we have to slow down and take our time to please (not jaded, just understanding what really is good about sex)...

I suspect this character is a gay man talking about his youth and how many girls he might have bedded before he took up with men. He knows the mechanics of heterosexual coupling, but emotionally sex is mechanical and sterile. He only feels the tenderness and attachment with another man.

Of course, that's going to be the realization later in life after sex with a few hundred men, (or even a few hundred women). Promiscuity and serial sex is empty and hollow. That's true for all partners. No one knows that in high school.

Unless of course the continuation has hit the plot on the head and the novel is about cheesy pickup lines in bars.

You know, this reminds of of the Maurice Chevalier character if GIGI. He's so in love with all women. He sings their praises, marvels at their wonderfulness and blabs on about his conquests - - BUT, but he only loves one woman (the Hermoine Gingold character) and feels alone and empty without her. This opening feels like that "yes, I remember it well" song - teary nostalgia, weepy regret and sighing rememberance.

PJD said...

Damn, I was going to say I agreed with theo as well, but that's been done to death. Now I have to come up with something original for my comment.

Gotta say I didn't get any of it. The only parts I understood, I understood in spite of the writing. "I lied to myself about it..." You lied to yourself about trying Janet and Carry? What, did you say "I didn't try Janet" to yourself over and over?

Considering the natural growing season for oranges is winter, an orange in June might not smell the way... well, let's just say that Millie might not be flattered. (OK, I am being very US-centric here. Google informs me that June is a fine time for oranges in New Zealand. Is the novel set in New Zealand?)

The second and third paragraphs I thought were written from a dog's perspective. Oh, there were hints, sure, like "held hands" and being sixteen, but otherwise... dog.

In fact, the whole thing could be from a dog's perspective as long as "all the way" doesn't mean what it usually means when it's teenagers talking.

I'll give you this: The piece has voice to it. Not an interesting voice that I'd care to read too much of, and even the most distinctive voices can use proper punctuation.

You appear to enjoy the semicolon.

Finally, it needs a lot of polishing. "soft supple goodness" and "occasionally, quite frequently - actually" don't really work. The last sentence uses "touch" twice.

Sorry, it just didn't work for me.

Anonymous said...

The vocab says mid-grade to me -- is this aimed at kids? I could believe this was written by a woman (a young woman) trying to imagine what it's like for a gay man.

I could also be very wrong. No offense intended, if so...

Anonymous said...

Lucky Millie smells like oranges and tastes like peppermint.

Yeah, that pretty much covers the Wrigleys product line. I hope she stops chewing while they're actually "doing it"?

McKoala said...

I wasn't sure if I liked or hated this tone, which is good, because you sure made me feel something! To me it sounds like an elderly man, looking back on his sordid youth. I have no idea what genre this is, or where it's going, but there are some nice touches to the writing. Lots of use of the senses, although you may be pushing it with the oranges in June - why June? But the peppermint is perfectly placed.

Would love to know how this will really go on! (while appreciating the continuation!)

Wonderwood said...

I think Dave's second comment nailed what the author was going for. Author, if the target audience is gay men, then maybe you're communicating your vision effectively, but it doesn't appear to resonate with the heterosexual crowd.

Loved the continuation!

GutterBall said...

Maybe it's the "there were" that's throwing people. It makes the "as a young man" a misplaced modifier. Maybe try this to clarify:

As a young man, I tried many girls before the many men.

The person who used to be a young man has to immediately follow the comment about him. It's just a grammar thing.

I see a lot of grammar niggles in this. It could be really powerful if you paid closer attention to sentence structure instead of trying to convey the awkwardness of his thoughts.

We went...all the way a few nights later at a party. All the way was funny. I knew where to put everything, where everything needed to go. Let's just say I didn't miss.

Something like that. It makes more sense and is a lot easier for the reader to wade through. See, you have the right words. They're just in an unpalatable order. Work on it; you'll get it right.

Good luck!

Wonderwood said...

Heebie, you do crossword puzzles by chance?

Anonymous said...

The first two sentences struck me as some sort of homage to James Joyce, so I didn't mind the odd construction. But then it went in an entirely different direction. Not Joyce.

E.S. Tesla said...

I didn't hate this. I thought it was very clear and straight forward, but I might have something in common with Dave's take there. Some of us 'gets' what the narrator is talking about, some don't.

There might be some grammar points, but I'd read on. But there better be a hook and a plot somewhere, if not, what's the point here? Have no idea where this is going.

batgirl said...

The punctuation completely threw me off. The odd grammar I could accept as being part of the narrator's voice, but the punctuation made this almost impossible to follow. Maybe the author should review the use of em-dashes and how they're different from ellipses and semi-colons? They seem to be used interchangeably here.
I'm also a bit dubious that a teenager who's freaked out by the sliminess of a mouth would be so competent in more intimate touching. Going all the way is pretty darn squishy too if it's done right.

GutterBall said...

Heebie, you do crossword puzzles by chance?

I do, WW. Word puzzles of almost any kind are a passion. I also carry a book of sudoku puzzles around with me almost everywhere and play a lot of mahjong on my computer when I'm not writing.

Oh, dear. I'm a nerd! How did I just now figure this out??

Anonymous said...

Wow, I’m blown away that so many of you commented on the opening.

I don’t know if by putting up this comment, I’m violating the Evil Editor, but thanks are in order.

I guess I should communicate better to a heterosexual crowd because I’m interested in the clear fission between the comments. And yes, this novel is about the reflections of an old man and the story of the first gay man to be married to his partner.

I submitted this post for just this response to understand how the opening relates to an audience that doesn’t know me, so this is great.

Also some of you have been curious to know the rest. I’ve entered the Gather Contest and the First Chapter is published on their site.

Thank you so much for reading.

E.S. Tesla said...

Hi Alex, read the first chapter.

I noticed the unusual grammar, but I don't mind, it kinda reminds me of Breat Easton Ellis and that rambling, ditzy style. I love Breat Easton Ellis.

As for the first chapter, you start with backstory, and then start over with even more backstory (the mom stuff etc.) I think it's too early for that, I want to get started with the STORY.

You have got one right? Plot. Conflict. Stuff like that. Stuff that makes fiction interesting.

but i like your style

Anonymous said...

I don't mind rambling, but the ungrammatical nature (commas used wrong or missing, etc.) really bugs me. A great editor could fix that without destroying your unique voice.

Still, I'd keep reading in a heartbeat. I knew it was the voice of a gay man, and assumed the recollections of rote-sex with some pleasure attached would segue into what gay sex felt like, by comparison.

I'd read on, because I like GLBT stories far more than het ones (being bi myself, and having read enough het stuff to fill a lifetime, but having found less GLBT work I loved).

If you want to connect with het people, you have to remember that they are heterocentric. They NEVER think a person's gay (bi, etc) until told. GLBT people, on the other hand, are constantly on the alert for signs that a protagonist (or real life person) isn't wholly straight, which is why we "get it" so fast.

This is the first time I've said this to a person on a writing board: I hope your work gets published someday; I will buy it.

E.S. Tesla said...

ditto. i'd buy this too...