Friday, August 03, 2007

New Beginning 331

The sickening crunch-thud of metal on metal startled William out of his reverie, but not in time to avoid running his Camry, albeit gently, into the bumper of the blue Saab in front of him. He slammed on his brakes, of course, but whacked the Saab nonetheless. The Saab was available to be whacked by virtue of its having been plowed into on its front passenger side by the world’s largest and most ancient Cadillac, thus producing the sound which had, however belatedly, alerted William.

He sat for a moment in his stalled Camry, heart pounding, and assessed the situation. The driver of the Saab was getting out, slowly. She was a young woman, with blond hair, blue jeans, and big sunglasses. She walked around to the front of her car, peered at the point of connection, and then stood looking at the Cadillac, which was lodged firmly into the entire right front end of her car. The impact had pushed the Saab into the opposite lane, and cars coming from that direction were now stopped, unable to get around.

The woman went back to the door of her car and leaned against the roof, gazing into the interior of the car. William climbed out of his Camry to see if she needed help. As he approached, he noticed she was hyperventilating.

"Miss?" he said. "Are you OK?"

She didn't answer, but instead put her fingers into her mouth and started to retch.

"Miss?" William touched her arm. "I think maybe you're in shock."

Sunlight glinted off her sunglasses as she spun around to face him. "Fucking-A I'm in shock," she snapped. "That was a hundred and fifty dollar lipstick I just swallowed!"

Opening: Calendula.....Continuation: Anonymous


merper said...

Something's out of order or out of scale here. You start off with a fender bender(Saab is in front), but then you say that the collision is actually on the front passenger side, which implies a head on impact. That's going to cause more than stunned silence.

Mostly the first paragraph is just convoluted. You're trying to fit in some cute characterisation of the car and how William observes the accident, but the language is too hard to understand.

If this is not an action/thriller type story, then I think it is fine to start of with something like:

William was daydreaming about coconuts when he rear ended the car in front.


One moment, William was riding home, day-dreaming, as he often did, about coconuts. The next, his fender was halfway up the trunk of the Saab in front of him.

Then, go on to description of the crash. The first line is too jarring to be a hook, I think. It needs a line of context before you can startle him out of it.

Bernita said...

"That was a hundred and fifty dollar lipstick I just swallowed!"

The style seems unnecessarily slow and somewhat repetitive.
Nits on adding "in front of him" when you've mentioned hitting the Saab's bumper. We assume his progress is forward.
And a few too many "ings."

Chris Eldin said...

This was too confusing for me. Part of it was the language (sickening crunch versus gentle running into bumper). Part of it was having 3 cars involved, and wanting to stay focused on the driver's Camry and the lady's Saab. And I'm having trouble drawing a mental picture of this accident.

What I liked in your first paragraph was the phrase 'available to be whacked.' That's really funny. But I thought the second paragraph was much better.

Margaret Taylor said...

The point from "He slammed on his breaks" to "...alerted William" is not necessary. I was able to work the details of the crash from the first two sentences, which, by the way, I like. Get straight to the intimidating-looking lady.

Anonymous said...

I agree with merper. You have alot of confusion about this accident. You say he whacked the car but "albeit gently" is a total contradiction. It seems like you are saying the front car got side impacted and braked and caused your MC to hit it. But I have to tell you that logistically this is impossible. The car got side impacted and you say it got pushed into on coming traffic, then why is MC in the car behind it still whacking the bumber of the hit car? Did he too drift into oncoming traffic? If he hit anyone it would be the cadillac that hit the saab. And a big old cadillac hitting a small saab, and I know saabs can be little tanks, enough to lodge firmly into the entire front end of the saab is going to cause some physical trauma on the driver. I doubt she will just calmly walk out and look at the point of connection. Shock, anger and alot of pain are going to hit her first = or she will be really dazed and out of it, which would be a symptom of shock.

I just think you should think carefully about how this accident is set up.

Bernita said...

Meant to add rhat I liked it just the same.

writtenwyrdd said...

I think that the car crash is overdescribed, but it's hard to tell within the first 150 words. My impression was that we have a crash which leads tosomething else that is important to start the story. The actual fender bender is probably not needing so much description in the first paragraph. You can add bits in here and there instead of all at once.

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

"Dang!" said, William, belatedly, albeit loudly.

Bill Highsmith

It's a Saab story! He cries. She cries. We all cry because, it's a Saab story.


Kate Thornton said...

OMG, Dave - "Saab Story"!!!

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with the majority of posters: the scenario was clear, and I like the voice.

It is a leeetle bit slow-moving, but I think the content offsets the leisurely style.


Chris Eldin said...

Saab story!!! That is hysterical!!, on to think up sumfin poetic.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a fine-scene-of-the-accident description -- I saw Cadillac and devoted laser-like focus to the words. I liked William even if he does drive a Toyota.
Kudos to Calendula! I liked the writing style, had no trouble with the crash-logistics although it may have some rough edges. The only things missing, to me, are the Caddy's model year and some rain.

hi yha!

Dave Fragments said...

I think there's fat in this writing. For instance: "He sat for a moment in his stalled Camry..." We know he is in a Camry. The author doesn't need to mention that again. And anytime I see "having been" and "had" I try to find a better way to say whatever is being written. Those words are sure signs of "chubby" writing.

"Peered at the point of connection" is the same as saying "lodged firmly into the right front end of her car."
This could be "She walked to the front of her car to observe the cadillac firmly embedded in the Saab's front end. Both cars sat in the oncoming lanes, obstructing traffic."
That's cleaner and crisper.

Now as to continuations, I'm defending EE.
I really like the $150 tube of lipstick. It's going to hurt coming out one way or another.

Anonymous said...

This reads like you're describing a film sequence - the details are visual. Give me emotion and I can provide visuals, but if you just give me visual I can't stir up any emotions.

I found it tiresome that each sentence in your first paragraph took one step further backwards in time. With each new sentence I had to stop, go backwards in time, and re-visualize the scene adding in the new detail. At the end, the paragraph came full circle and explained the sickening crunch-thud that had mystified me from the beginning, but by then I didn't care.

I'd try describing this from William's point of view rather than the omniscient narrator you've got now. Emphasize not what he sees, but what he thinks and feels.

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree with ello on this one. Logistically, the Camry should have hit the Caddy if the Saab wound up in the oncoming lane of traffic. Maybe he glanced off the corner of the bumper, but that's not what comes across here. Sounds like he hit the bumper square on. And if he hit the Saab's bumper gently, why is the Camry stalled (or is that a subtle dig at Toyota)?

The scene didn't play well in my head. And, like merper and anon 5:01, the order of events at the beginning threw me. I had to re-read to get the sequence right.

I would like to see more reaction from the people involved, but maybe that comes in the next 150.

I would definitely tighten ("The Saab's blond-haired driver, decked out in blue jeans and sunglasses, slid out of the car") and get rid of the "was's" and the "had's" here to make it more immediate; but if this is your style throughout and others found the flow good, then stick with it. You can't please everyone.

McKoala said...

Slightly confused and the accident did sound potentially more serious than you present.

Lay off Toyotas! Or I'll give you a saab story...