Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New Beginning 350

He was a gonad looking for trouble.

I heard him before I saw him; the strong, metallic sound of boots striking hardwood out in the dark hall, and then, there he was.

Black-brown eyes, dirty-blonde hair hanging loose and uncut over his jacket, a grin spreading slowly and deliberately across his lean face as he stopped and stood in the doorway of the living room of the party house, looking around, making sure to make his entrance.

I’d first shown up at the party house one night several months before, with a group of people I barely knew. It was the usual initiation. Knowledge of its existence and follow on knowledge of its inner workings grew that way, like a fat and happy virus. There was no Sabbath, no day of rest, from the party that self-perpetuated there.

Now William Tully had arrived again. It wasn’t hard to guess his identity. From what I’d heard about him, he was all and only just one long, blonde gonad. One long and golden piece of trouble. Now who doesn’t sometimes crave a little trouble. And in the last, gasping years of the 1970s, a lot of people had their cravings, flailing along within a dying decade. I wasn’t alone. In fact, the party house was filled with golden gonads and luscious labia.

The tallest labium in the room, I strutted around in my new stilettos. The gonad barely noticed me; instead, his eyes fixed on the doorway, where the newest ovaries had just sashayed in.

"Hello William," she said, looking around. "Quite a party."

"Best in town." His tongue was hanging out.

I still had my hole card: "I brought some coke." I grinned at him. "Is there an empty bedroom we can use?"

We were halfway down the hall when someone yelled, "We need one more for a game of Twister."

The gonad's eyes lit up. My grin faded like the ebbing embers of a decaying decade.

"Later," I muttered at his back. "Have fun with your new testicles."

Opening: Robin S......Continuation: church lady/EE


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuation:

And, of course, I had showed up just one hot, slurpy vagina. we were made for each other.

He heard the click of my high heels in the bedroom hallway, and there I was. Green eyes, red hair, newly enlarged tits, liposuctioned waist and uplifted butt.

Virginia Tully made eyes pop with her black fishnets and un-politically correct mouth. Not only did she go down like a Dyson on a chrome bumper, but she said words like vagina, labia, vulva, or clitoris.

She most like holding the whip over William Tully's head while chanting the word clitoris. And being one, blond goand, he got the message,


Evil Editor said...

This is a chapter opening, but either way it's a good hook and good writing. Presumably it's autobiographical and William Tully is the father of your first child.

As the house would perpetually have Doors and Cream blasting out of Bose speakers, could you really hear someone walking down the hall?

I'd remove "again" from "Wm. Tully had arrived." It avoids the question of how she knows he's been there before if she's never seen him. Apparently someone told her in an earlier chapter, but even if we were in on that conversation, I'd still remove "again." She'd be more likely to say he was back, or that he'd arrived, than that he'd arrived again. Surely he does more than just arrive.

Question mark after the second "trouble."

writtenwyrdd said...

Author, that first line doesn't work. I get what you are saying, but honestly, it slaps me in the face with an image of a single testicle, which is startling, malformed, and unpalatable. I agree with your sense that you need some sort of hooky opening line here, though.

I am not overly fond of beginning the the third paragraph with such a detailed description of the guy. "Stopped and stood" is too much, too literal-- like stage blocking in a screenplay. "Party house" is too telling and gives no sense of place. (More on this below.) I think you could say a lot about William's entrance by just calling it a "pose" instead of the spelling out of his movements. Additionally, you would likely be better served if you had him stalk in and pose against the doorway before you describe him. The verb you choose to describe his movement will point the reader toward how they should interpret the description. And also movement is generally considered before appearance when we turn to look at something.

And in the Fourth paragraph, you say, "Now William Tully had arrived again." This is stilted and probably should be earlier. What does 'again' signify?

I suggest you merge this the the third paragraph. Have this 'william tully' line adjacent to the posing in the doorway. At the least, trim the unneeded stuff and make it "William Tully had arrived."

And that last bit, "the party house was filled with golden gonads and luscious labia" was just not good. I don't care where you are going with it and whether or not you are trying to establish your character's voice with it-- you haven't given me enough of a sense of the narator to get away with this wording. That makes it distasteful instead of clever. And it could be very clever.

And back to 'party house.' You use that term again here instead of describing the scene. The only description is of William, which means we are mentally floating in a void with a doorway in which he is leaning. Is this a frat house party? Is this some sort of bordello? I have literally zero sense of what the location is except your term 'party house.'

Evil Editor said...

And that last bit, "the party house was filled with golden gonads and luscious labia" was just not good.

That you can blame on church lady, as it's part of the continuation. (Note the blue color.)

Anonymous said...

I just had to note that the continuation made me snort coffee.


Chris Eldin said...

Oh Sweetness, I MADE IT IN!!!

I'm doing a Church Lady dance.

Will be back after I paste into another post what I copied from Nathan's blog....

writtenwyrdd said...

Okay, given the knowledge that this is a chapter opening, I have to say that much of what I said doesn't apply. Oh well. But I still don't like the use of gonad as is.

writtenwyrdd said...

Sorry, I was looking at the comment page at the time and got confused.

Chris Eldin said...

Hey, I liked the golden gonad and luscious labia line. It's way better than Dave's hot, slurpy vagina.
I don't know how much I can take of this lingo before coffee....

I liked the opening, but the first line made me spew whatever I was drinking at the time. I, too, pictured a single testicle standing in a doorway. A testicle with markered-on eyes (that were crossed), a funny nose, and an open mouth with hillbilly teeth.

Sorry for the visual.


Anonymous said...

hmmm, this is not hooking me at all. The second paragraph is a dead end. The sentence is way too long and unnecessary. I'd prefer you describe him through his actions rather than running down a list that is boring and typical. wow, blonde hair and brown-black eyes? so what?

I agree about the party house references. that could mean any number of situations. is it upscale or sleazy? what kind of booze are people drinking? what exactly is playing on the stereo when he prepares to make his entrance? your generalities don't give me confidence that you know this story.

and, I guess, if you are implying that William Tully is one half of a future baby, you don't want to use gonad. you want gamete.

Robin S. said...

Holy crap, guys. I just got on here - and started laughing my ass off when I saw this was here. Already.

I posted an opening about a poor, homeless guy and it takes a month to make it over to the blog - I post a chapter opening about a gonad, and it takes, what, a few days at most?

OK- I'm sticking with sex from now on. Sex sells. Got it.

Church lady - you and EE make a good team. Dave, I liked yours as well - especially the slurpy vagina. Sounds like some kind of weird convenience store drink from hell (or heaven, depending upon your point of view).

EE- no Cream or Doors- how the hell old do you think I am? Pink Floyd was more like it, thanks, and even that had moved on to a little bit of classic rock status.

The gonad line is there to garner attention - big surprise- but also because some people really seem to be, above all else, one essential thing. All the rest of what they "are" - simply trappings. Extraneous.

EE - the question mark thing- I have a question. The narrator phrases senetences as questions a few times in what I've written, but she doesn't really ask; she's saying. This speech pattern is part of who she "is". Does it work, not using a question mark, if this is done purposefully, on occasion, throughout the novel?
I'm working hard on finishing this thing- and I think I'm almost there - but if these types of things are potential deal-killers because they will be considered punctuation errors, I'd rather know now.

I'll take out the 'again'.

Robin S. said...

By the way- the party house is described in more detail shortly, and was mentioned in the previous chapter.

But I'd like to think the era- late 1970s - and the idea of the semi-eternal party going on there, were strong clues.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

I don't care what anyone else says, I laughed myself silly over this one and that first line totally hooked me! And I shrieked out loud at the golden gonad and luscious labia line. Thanks to church lady for that! Priceless! My 3 year old came over with such a concerned look on her face until she realized mommy was laughing and not crazy.

I liked this hook - I think there are repetitive words that you can delete to make it read smoother but I like the essence of it. And the line starting with "Knowledge" was a bit choppy and awkward for me. And I'm not sure you need to repeat the gonad line in the last paragraph only because it detracts from the force of the opening line, although one long blond gonad is f**king funny as shit!

Dave Fragments said...

I counted six "was" and four "had" occurences.
Now all the arguements about perfect tenses aside, I thought these slowed the opening. Not that I don't like the opening, it's lots of fun, nice sense of humor.

The first line is echoed in the third paragraph. Calling a guy a "gonad" is so descriptive, any repeat might be needless. I wouldn't reuse the word gonad that fast.

Another repeat that bugs me is "making sure to make his entrance" in the second paragraph. That's too many words just to say "making an entrance."

"Knowledge of its existence and follow on knowledge" is another of those constructions. This might be deliberate to give the narrator a voice. I can't tell from this short a sample. But it's heading towards overdone. And that paragraph is a bunch of backstory. Apparently Tully had not shown up at the party in months but the narrator was a regular? I'm not sure that's the message you wanted to deliver. I like the virus image. I like the Sabbath image. But you are introducing Tully.

A third repeat of the same thought occurs here:
"One long and golden piece of trouble." It repeats the sentence before it which has already echoed the opening line.

That might be too much style. Eventually the reader is going to say/think/mutter - I know that, get on with it.

I did two rewrites just for my edification:
1) William Tully was a gonad looking for trouble. When he arrived at the party, all anyone saw was a tall, dark brown eyed bad boy with shoulder-length dirty blond hair and a grin promising adventure. Testosterone fueled trouble on two feet, but who didn't crave a bit of trouble? Not me. In the last gasp of the 70's, I kept no Sabbath, no day of rest. My party never ended. (70 words)

I didn't like certain aspects of that. So I didn't work to smooth it out.
And then I realized this might be stronger:
2) In the last gasp of the 70's, I kept no Sabbath, no day of rest. My party never ended. William Tully arrived at my party, a gonad looking for trouble. Who didn't crave a bit of trouble? Not me. Tully was a tall, brown-eyed bad boy with shoulder-length dirty blond hair and a grin promising hot sex and outrageous adventures. (62 words)
Again, that's rough but it talks about your narrator's perception of Tully.

And as for why this inspired such a long comment, let's just say I met a "William Tully" in my time. And, I survived to regret it. Although, it was fun while it lasted. Trouble, trouble, trouble.

writtenwyrdd said...

Knowing this is the late 70s, I recognize the vermin, ah, character, you are describing with the term gonad. Knowing this was a chapter opening changes my stance on the gonad line to Judgement Reserved. Can't say it doesn't work because I don't know what's already happened and if william has been introduced.

Evil Editor said...

The narrator phrases senetences as questions a few times in what I've written, but she doesn't really ask; she's saying.

Clearly it's a rhetorical question requiring no answer, but I think we understand that even with a question mark. And questions do provide sentence variety.

I walked into the room and found Livingston eating porridge. Who eats porridge nowadays.

Wouldn't you prefer a question mark there?

The music playing in the party house would depend not on your age, but on whether the occupants are the last holdovers from the late 60's/early 70's generation. In The Big Chill Jeff Goldblum says something like, there've been a lot of great songs since back then, and someone (Kevin Kline?) says, "Name one."

So it all depends on whether the party house is dominated by Jeff Goldblum types, or Kevin Kline types.

Robin S. said...

Hi ello,

Thanks. I was hoping someone else thought the opening itself was funny. (The continuation was hysterical, and taking into account the etymology behind that word, even more so).


I have rewritten this opening three or four times to get the flow right, so I see what you mean, and what ello touched on (with the knowledge sentence).

There are a few other paragraphs I'm trying to keep intact and wrap this stuff around, to include:

"And a guy could be a layabout-sometime-sort-of-electrician barely scraping by, but when he entered the party house his testosterone level seemed to receive a direct and magic injection. He was cool. He was god. How could you turn him down at the party house? Oh, but you could turn him down all right. Turn the lights on, or see him walking alone down the street later on. Testosterone dream over and out, baby." and

"No females seemed to live in the party house, but there were plenty passing through. I call them females because one night a guy stood out by the front door,intoning ‘the females are coming, the females are coming’ like Paul Revere was maybe his ancestor, or like maybe he was smarter than I thought he was, as the females hit the large front porch with their shoes clomping up the wooden stairs, heading toward the slightly open front door, to make a night of it."

So, hopefully you can see that this is supposed to be a little wry.

Yeah, Dave. I met a William once myself - no - not the father of my oldest child, or anyone else's, that I heard of, anyway. So I know what you mean. Trouble, trouble, trouble. But memorable.

Anonymous said...

Robin, I think this is top notch. I really like the style of it and I don't agree with many of the call outs and comments:I think it has a lot of rhythm. I do agree with EE about the ?? thing.

I know EXACTLY the type of party house you mean and I hope you include shag carpeting somewhere!! Also agree with EE that the type of music would convey important ambience.

There was no Sabbath, no day of rest, from the party that self-perpetuated there.

Hey, but was there Black Sabbath? I went back and reread that para and there is something a little (off-beat)weird about the "Knowledge" sentence, maybe? And the only other nit would be to strengthen the reader's perception that William has a pretty high perception of himself, re:had arrived and guess his identity.

I Would Definitely Read On!!!

Excellent CLady + Evil!! Heh heh on the hole card.

Dave! That continuation was pretty wild!! How many books in your library are by "Anonymous"?

Dave Fragments said...

I thought of Hendrix and Moody Blues, perhaps even Procol Harum, not "the Big Chill."

I don't have a problem with the rhetorical questions. I did put a question mark at their end. That was instinctive.

It's interesting just how evocative calling the male character a "gonad" is for the story.
And we all immediately know what Robin means when she says, in essence, "the gonad arrives" ...

And we could just reduce the entire opening to those three words. However, this is much more stylish. It does give the author a chance to reveal so much about the narrator's personality by the way she talks about the party and Tully.

That's why the first sentence could open a book, not just a chapter.

And a last thought because I just read Robin's comment. It is all about flow right now. All the words are there and they - could be / might be - tweaked. That tweaking is hard. It's the real essence of writing prose. We know how to do it in poetry. Prose sometimes requires just as careful a selection of words.

Nancy Beck said...

I liked the first line - had me chuckling.

And the continuation was hilarious!

I was in high school in the late 70s (yeah, I'm dating myself), graduating in 1980. What about Zeppelin, Iron Butterfly, and I second Black Sabbath that someone else posted about.

I didn't care for the gonad line the second time around, either, as I thought the first time around was good enough. Seemed unnecessary to me.

Good luck with it.


Dave Fragments said...

Dave! That continuation was pretty wild!! How many books in your library are by "Anonymous"?

Only one - "Primary Colors"

Andy J Smith illustration said...


none said...

It's true. If you pause to count every "was" and "had", it does read slow.

Robin S. said...

Hi guys-

Thanks again for the comments, you all. I really enjoy it when the comments are more of a discussion, like this, and as some other openings and facelifts have been lately.

OH- by the way- greencat posted a revised query on FaceLift 449.


EE - I see what you mean about the question mark. Your example was fun. I'll add 'the mark', or maybe change the sentence to "Now who doesn’t sometimes crave a little trouble, is what I wanna know." This is how I had the sentence originally, but changed it because I like narrator 'intrusiveness' like this, implying that a question is being (tacitly) asked of the reader, but I don't know how many other people do.

I'll try this with and without the second gonad line. Thanks for pointing that out, guys.

ml- I know what you mean about physical description. Generally, I'm not a big fan myself. But t his guy, as far as what I've written was concerned, merited special attention, as his looks were part of his special gonad status. There's another line about him in this chapter that explains:

"That boy could mesmerize a dead woman, so you can imagine what he does to the live ones."

And BTW- this guy is the same one from the death scenes EE asked for a while back. So, shortly, he's too dead to be fathering any children.

pacatrue said...

I was only 6 in 1979, but we had our party houses too. In fact, I wrote up a story back then based on those degenerate days. It went something like:

A big, greeb wee-wee stood in the door.

It was all hairy and icky and ewwww! It was like the incredible Hulk's wee-wee, and I don't mean when he's still that sientist guy walking down the street all the time. I mean the Hulk when he's big and green and beats things up. The fun part. Watching that sientist walk down the street is like watching The Electric Company, waiting for the Spiderman part. Borrring.

He came in even though I didn't want him there. This was supposed to be a Wonder Woman party. I LOVE Wonder Woman and when I grow up I'm going to be just like her. I already have the bracelets. Ching! Ching! I can stop shooting guns with them. Wonder Woman!! That's me.

Anyway, mom said I had to invite my whole class to the party, not just the people I liked. I hate that. I told the boys they had to wear wonder woman outfits, but none of them did. Stupid boy wee-wees. I'm so glad I don't have one. They're icky gross.

I've got some Strawberry Shortcake fiction from just a few years later if anyone wants it. I keep querying this stuff, but so far no bites.

AmyB said...

I liked this opening; I thought it was hilarious. The only thing that bugged me was the repetition in "making sure to make his entrance."

Brenda said...

Okay, I happened to LOVE the opening line. LOVE IT! Keep it!

Ali said...

Loved the first line. I agree with others that the second "gonad" reference was overkill, though. Really liked the "no Sabbath from the party" phrase, too.

It would help me if you described the scenario in the third paragraph--the music, is it crowded, is it hazy, does it smell of pot, are other gonads off screwing in the corner? (I dunno, I was too young for party houses in the late 70's). As it is, I started with an image of a house with no people in it (because the narrator hears footsteps in the dark hall), then I'm told it's a party house but you don't give me anything to fill it with.

I got tripped up on "Knowledge of its existence and follow on knowledge of its inner workings." Is it follow-on knowledge, maybe? Still not sure I get it. Also got tripped up on "He was all and only just" before the second gonad reference.

Overall, great chapter opening.