Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New Beginning 243

The bouncer at the door pointed me toward the back of the club, after making eyes at me only a dead man could miss. I shouldered through the tight-packed crowd, trying to ignore the overblown makeup, strategically bared flesh and studded leather. The throbbing pulse of the music made my clenched teeth buzz. And the smoke - not all of it legal - irritated my lungs.

Eyes followed me as I headed for the door leading backstage. My torn jeans and the crumpled linen jacket didn't exactly fit in. I was just edging past the dance floor when I felt hands and the brush of a hip. I jerked to a halt. A man writhed around me like he was a pole dancer and I was the pole. I smelled the sharp scent of his sweat as he raised his arms and shimmied against me.

"Excuse me," I said, my voice high like a girl's.

He put his hand behind my head, pulled me in, and thrust his tongue into my mouth. I tried to pull back, but he reached around me and gripped my ass cheeks. "Come with me," he growled into my ear.

I recognized his voice immediately. "Detective Simpkin?"

"That's right, officer." He ground his pelvis against my thigh. "Just look at the ceiling and keep moving toward the back."

I tilted my head up and tried to ignore the feeling of my boss bumping against my hip as I shuffled toward the door.

Somehow this wasn't what I'd envisioned when they said "undercover."

Opening: writtenwyrdd.....Continuation: Sylvia


Anonymous said...

I had to read the first sentence twice. I think you should flip it: "After making eyes at me only a dead man could miss, the bouncer at the door pointed me toward the back of the club."

amy said...

Overall, I found this very compelling, but this phrase:

"after making eyes at me only a dead man could miss"

means nothing to me. What kind of eyes would a dead man miss? I guess it's a dramatic look of some kind, but the phrase isn't terribly specific or strong for a first sentence. Maybe simplify with something like "gave me a severe look" or a knowing look or an aggressive stare or something?

Bernita said...

I agree with Anon.
"Making eyes" usually means that the eyer finds the eyee attractive. Is this what you intended?

Anonymous said...

making eyes at me only a dead man could miss

this phrase seemed cryptic and cumbersome to me as well. you might try something succinct and clear like "leering at me".

Dave Fragments said...

I have mixed feelings about this. (hehe, hehe).
When I first read this, I thought the speaker was in a gay bar. It sounded chauvinistic to me. But that was late night with Letterman warping my mind.
The opening is oddly ambiguous, not asexual but androgynous. The continuation retains that uncertainty.

However, reading this now, since the continuation provokes different impressions; I see some things that cause confusion.
Who makes "eyes only a dead man could miss"? The Dancer or the Bouncer?
The linen jacket stands out for no particular reason. Who wears linen with torn jeans? It's such an impractical fabric. In a bar such as this (leather, studs, bare flesh and deafening music) anything is out of place. Stereotypically, a fluffy sweater is the typical out of place item of clothing at these clubs. A striped Nautica or Polo shirt would stand out too. Bare abs are in, muscle tees and tattoos, also.

This sounds like a detective story. Is it?

If the speaker isn't a girl, if it is a man, why is it important that he answer in a high-pitched voice? If the speaker is a girl, why does she pitch her voice up there? Is she normally a contralto? I mean, are we looking at a Kirtsen Chenoweth or a Queen Latifah. (Both of who are fun but in vastly different ways).

Anonymous said...

amy, you need to get out more.

PJD said...

I am confused about a lot of things, but I'm confident those will come clear in the next few pages. It seems that you've chosen to make certain things ambiguous on purpose to be revealed a little later, like "voice high like a girl's." (Until then, I was unsure whether this was a man or a woman.)

All in all, I did find this compelling and was intrigued to read more. I think you did a very good job with this, though I would echo the other sentiments about the first line.

My only other two very minor comments:
1. "Eyes followed me..." I have this image of eyeballs hopping along behind through the crowd.
2. The second paragraph drones a little by the end because of all the "I [did]" construction in the paragraph. Perhaps change the "I smelled..." sentence to something more like "The sharp scent of his sweat hit me..."?

Great job.

Anonymous said...

If you guys would like to read the full opening, it's at Sorry, I don't know the tags for a link.

thanks for the comments already posted and for those soon to be posted. I am presently on vacation and have intermittant web access.

Anonymous said...

I dunno...I "got" the first sentence. It's good. The only ambiguous part is the gender of the narrator, but it sure seems to be male, albeit a male dressed like Don Johnson in Miami Vice meets English Lit teaching assistant. Which probably happens in that particular bar.

Really good beginning, and I suspect people who pick up the published novel won't have any trouble figuring out the genre & genders. I'd read it, and I don't get to say that often enough.

Anonymous said...

Yes, bernita and anon 11:00. I like the idea of flipping the sentence. The idea is to make the reader feel a touch off balance, too, but not too much. Just want them in tune with the pov character.

The problem with the confusion is the 150 word limit. If you read the actual opening it's clarified (I think anyhow). I would think that calling the overly friendly fellow "a man" indicated he wasn't the bouncer at the door, though...

Sylvia said...

I read this as being in a gay bar, with the narrator either not much of a blubber or merely "out of the loop". The look, I took to be lascivious. The high voice I assumed was nervousness.

Reading your link, I find the questions in my mind answered by the time the conversation with Lindahl has started.

I liked this a lot.

Brenda said...

I liked it. I read this as a man dressed (successfully) as a woman (a hot one at that) once I got to the "my voice high like a girl's". Now I'm wondering if he's a crossdresser, or even better, a cop undercover as a hottie girl. I like the voice too. I'd definitely read it.

And I never seem to have the problem with the eyes that others have. I understand what they mean, and I don't find eyeballs popping out of heads rolling around.

I wish EE would give opinions on NB, dammit.

Dave Fragments said...

I read your opening (all 950 words) and I think you are trying to hard.

Think about what you are doing.

You want to introduce Ricard D'Espania, not so much an attorney but as executor of the estate of Genesse Portago, his great, great aunt. He is searching for Lindahl Lorraine, who makes a living as Lindy the female impersonator. (BTW I knew my great Aunt M and never met her Aunt Tessie Turra but I have searched her on the web, she's famous.)


Except, Ricard doesn't know that Lindahl is making a living as a female impersonator and Ricard has to negotiate a gay, dance bar including the indignity of getting groped on his cute ass. There's a difference between female impersonators, drag queens, transvestites and transgender individuals.

What you want the reader to remember, is that Ricard D'Espania introduces the concept of "The Progenitors" – And Lindahl (For all his quirkiness), is a Progenitor. THAT is the dramatic ending.

I think that the important portion of this chapter is the conversational back and forth between Lindahl and the executor. It's his life and what Ricard is offering or inflicting on him that's important. The bar is not important. The DJ isn't important. The throbbing music isn't important. Lindahl, one of your characters is important. Let his words speak to the reader.

(I guess you know what I'm going to say next) It's not too many words, it's the wrong words.

GO back to the opening and chop it in half. Use one sentence telling the reader that Ricard is in the dressing area of a cheap, gay bar with live performers.
Start at the knock on the dressing room door. The entire opening should be the discourse between the first two characters who (I guess) live to the end of your novel. I suspect, that one of them is around after the mystery of the progenitors is solved, the disaster thwarted, etc... Maybe even one is a hero of it.

And a bit of advice. When confronted with a man dressed as a woman, you call her she. A few years before I retired, a fellow left on Friday and returned on Monday in a dress. A year later, he underwent SRS and now is She. I wouldn't call her by anything but she. The only exception is your husband on Halloween if he is in drag, then it's He. He doesn't mean it and most likely the hairy chest spoils the illusion.

BTW – you have a great insight when Ricard thinks "His pain wasn't my problem, I reminded myself. I was here to do my job," Brilliant line. Just Brilliant.

Now I gotta go cook dinner – lamb chops tonight (Knish and Rodney are coming to dinner).


McKoala said...

I could not figure out if the protag was male or female. I assumed female (the bouncer making eyes, the pole dancing) until the phrase 'my voice high like a girl's' - which made me think it was a man.

Funny continuation!

Kanani said...

I think you need a stronger first sentence. If I had to choose, I'd start with your second sentence because it has both visuals and also the narrator's attitude toward what he is seeing. It tells me a lot about how he feels being there.

"Eyes followed me"

Okay, when we start separating body parts from the people, then I get Looney Toones imagery. Best to say, "I felt conspicuous, my torn jeans and crumpled linen jacket stood out amid the leather and studs."

Keep going. Use more nouns. Bewrae of adjectives. Sounds fun.

Wonderwood said...

Wyrdd, I just read the chapter on your blog. Nice job! I left some comments there, so here I'll just say keep up the good work!

writtenwyrdd said...

Thanks for the comments, folks. And sylvia, the continuation is great.

This is a fantasy, actually, and the important character is the pov character. He's going to meet someone in the back.

BTW Dave, I think you might be mistaking my personal knowledge of pc-ness with my character's lack thereof. He isn't comfortable, he doesn't know how to be correct yet he's trying. Let's just say I'm a bit more savvy about such matters than Ricard (the pov character).

Dave Fragments said...

Sorry, I didn't mean the comment that personally. Ricard comes across as embarrassed. And, unfortunately, the entire 900 some words sound embarrased. That isn't the point I was trying to make. It was just a comment.

Please do an excersize for yourself. Cut the entire first part of the story (roughly 281 words) down to the point where Lindahl says "Come in" and do a rewrite with Ricard's reactions to Lindy/Lindahl to come out in their discussion.

Tidbits: Use the word garish only once, please!

Bernita said...

I donno. I liked the scene set-up. Created a certain suspense for me.

writtenwyrdd said...

Dave, you seem determined that I cut this opening. I usually agree with your opinions, but I think I have to ignore this one. Thank you, though.

Dave Fragments said...

OK, it is your writing and not mine.

My natural writing style is long-winded and I tend to draft and cut drastically.

It's a good segment with two well-drawn characters. Go, do what you think is right for them.