Monday, July 16, 2007
New Beginning 316
He flew down to Florida to close the deal with Jack Stanley. The man waiting for him at the airport held a sign that said "Daniel Brady" in large, block letters. He held out his hand for Daniel's suitcase then gestured to the sliding doors at the far end of the baggage claim. Daniel followed.
The air outside was thick. Daniel moved through it slowly, the warmth coming as a shock after the cold of Chicago. In the space of three hours he had gone from eight degrees to eighty. The driver opened the back door of the sedan, and Daniel slid in. The interior of the car was crisp and cool. There was a partition between the front and back seats, but it was down.
The driver closed the trunk on Daniel's suitcase and got into the car. Disco-pop came from the radio. A meaty hand reached into the center console and turned the volume down a few notches. "You cool enough back there?"
The driver maneuvered the car onto the airport road and toward the highway. "So you hear about the new law the city's trying to pass? Keep sex offenders from living in Tampa?"
"Yeah, I heard."
"Well you want my opinion, it ain't gonna work. I mean forcing old ladies into spaghetti strap halters, tube tops, daisy dukes and stilletto heels? That ain't enough to drive a sex offender away."
"Guess not," Daniel mouthed. God, he hated Florida, hated it with a passion. Yet here he was in Florida again and for money no less. Even the whores make more than me, he thought.
"If that doesn't work, then what do they do? Nothin, that's what."
"You gotta get them dirty politicians and rub shit in their noses like bad puppies to get 'em to do anything but roll their eyes and rub their bald heads."
"Uh huh." Daniel adjusted his iPod. Wastin' away again in Margaritaville popped into his ears. "Turn left at Planet Earth, driver," he said as the man continued to gesticulate and rant.
Opening: Wednesday.....Continuation: Dave
Posted by Evil Editor at 11:00 AM
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A pronoun with no antecedent, grumble.
I would have thought any temperature comparison would be with the plane he's been on for three hours.
I dunno, Wednesday, there's nothing much wrong with this, it's just not very engaging. I can't see much that couldn't be glossed in a couple of lines. Try to make the opening work harder.
I really liked this opening (and the continuation! LOL!)
It's slow-paced, and I enjoyed just relaxing with it. But I'm hoping that you wrote it this way to contrast with something dramatic happening soon (like the driver isn't who he appears to be, or they get into an accident, etc.)
Otherwise, if the next couple of pages are this slow, I'd start skipping ahead.
I've met that cab driver not in Florida but in Manhattan. He never did shut up. It was like Vogon poetry, a case of sudden onset deafness was the onloy salvation. AND he drove between two cars at 45 mph with two inches to spare on both sides. I wanted to kiss the ground when I got out of that cab.
But I digress :)
I'm hoping the slowness and mind-numbing boredom is deliberate. If so, this would be the American version of Kenzaburo Oe's novel back in th 80's (I think it was Oe, I can't find the book in my library) that hit the "literary" types and the protagonist never reached an ending or really did anything. Like "Waiting for Godot" in print where the totality of the story makes a statement but no one in the story actually does anything.
The fact that the opening and the continuation hit me the way it did says that it has the effect the writer was looking to create.
If the story is a rip-snortin, chase-laden, all out murder mystery with lots of dead bodies, guns and detectives, this isn't the right opening.
And thanks for the edit, EE. It made my words sparkle.
This didn't grab me, either. Partly, the sentences all felt the same. There just wasn't a hook or anything interesting going on. I suspect that what this needs is something that ties us to what is the real plot.
The writing is crisp, and there are a lot of nice details, but I couldn't find a hook. The promise of what's to come--closing the deal with Jack Stanley--doesn't sound interesting. The bit about the sex offender law is marginally more so, but since it doesn't relate to anything that's come before, it's hard for me to tell if it has story significance or if it's just the start to a conversation that's going to go somewhere else.
On the plus side, the writing flows nicely and it's very easy to understand--it's not work to read it, which I appreciate--so if I were reading the actual book I'd certainly give it more time to let me know what it's about.
I think you could cut the "Daniel followed" line. It's implied by the rest.
I found myself skimming this opening, looking for something interesting. Maybe it's because I've spent way too much time in airports recently, but it's just not an atmosphere I care to linger in, literally or literarily.
One tipoff that you're "telling" instead of "showing" is when you use the '[SOMETHING] was [SOMETHING]' construction, as in:
The air outside was thick.
The interior of the car was crisp and cool.
There was a partition...but it was down.
Those aren't the only instances of "telling", but they're the most obvious ones. Try to make your words paint the scene more vividly.
Also, as others have noted, there is zero tension here. It's just a guy getting into a cab. How badly could the reader possibly need to know that?
I suggest looking for the place where your protagonist realises he has a problem to solve; you want to start the story at that moment.
The "He" in the first line and the "him" in the second cause confusion with the "He" in the third line. I didn't mind the pronoun "he" without a precedent until the repeat that referred to someone else. Then I was trying to figure out if he really was Daniel or just pretending to be or what. Threw me out of the story. Rework.
The line jjdebenedictus pointed out can be shortened to "The partition between the front and back seats was down", with no loss of information or clarity.
Of course, you can also replace it with a bit of stage business like, "Daniel looked for the button to raise the partition between the front and back seats", or, better for being deep POV, "Daniel looked past the lowered partition toward the front seat, where the drvier's meaty hand was adjusting the stereo."
I usually don't mind autonomous body parts but that meaty hand seemed a bit too self-motivated.
I'd have to see more.This didn't really grab me. If it's any help, my first thought was that that first para could probably go completely, it's almost all telling and it will become clear who he's meeting and why as you move through the story.
If the driver and car ride are important, then maybe this is the place to start. Hard to know from 150 words. But certainly the first paragraph isn't necessary? The second paragraph indicates he's just flown in.
"The driver closed the trunk on Daniel's suitcase and got into the car" seems like a piece of business of no real importance, unless there being a suitcase in the trunk becomes a major plot point. Seems strange to include that detail, but not have the men speak on meeting, even something perfunctory. I guess I'm not understanding - yet - what details you're choosing to relate and why.
Maybe Daniel would have a reason to know, and the driver knows that reason, but for a stranger to open a conversation about sex offenders and a law in a city quite distant from Chicago seems quite odd. Small talk is one thing, but this just made me ask "WTF?" Sorry.
Hopefully all is cleared up in the next 150.
"I usually don't mind autonomous body parts...."
You know, a few years back I tried to explain this to my first wife, but she wouldn't have any of it. It went something like...
"And if you just cannot keep it in your pants, I'm outta here!"
I dilligently tried to explain.
"Hey, it's not me! It's autonomous!"
To which she said.
"Tell it to my lawyer."
Ah, those were good times.
It didn't grab me. I assume something will eventually happen, but the writing and character aren't interesting enough for me to keep reading to find out. There's nothing really wrong with it -- a bit too much telling, but some literary styles are like that -- just nothing I could reach out and like, either.
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