Monday, January 28, 2008

New Beginning 439

August 1822

“Go away!” Kincaid shouted at Joe. There wasn’t a need to turn in the saddle and look back. He was there. The sounds of creaking leather and the clip of hooves said so. He had been there for half a day since he come trottin’ up with the pack mule in tow. Like he was ready to go anywhere and stay out as long as need be, the mule was loaded so.

“I said ‘Go away’,” the young man shouted again.

“Thought you said I free,” Joe replied. “Thought you said I ain’t a slave no more. That Lerocque don’t own me, and you don’t own me.”

“I did!” Kincaid snapped.

“Then I free to ride where I want. Free to ride south like I doin’. Maybe go to Santa Fe and spend some time.”

“I don’t need no mammy!” Kincaid raised his voice more. Can’t that darky see I don’t want to be around no one? That bein’ alone and feelin’ the hurt was what a man needed after what Maria done.

"Don't need no mammy," Joe mumbled. "You a miserable man, Mr. Kincaid, you know dat?"

Kincaid heard Joe's horse shuffle to a stop, and then the sounds of a man dismounting.

"Okay, how 'bout dis," Joe shouted. With a sigh, Kincaid pulled the horse around and glowered at his second shadow, dancing with his hands on his hips and a wide grin. "Ooohh, de Camptown ladies sing dis song, Doo Dah--"


"Yes, sir?"

"Johnson, tell me again. Exactly how did you research this piece?"

Opening: Wes Redfield.....Continuation: Anonymous


Evil Editor said...

Kincaid raised his voice more.

You don't need this line. He was already shouting.

I believe you asked earlier about showing a character's thoughts, as in: Can’t that darky see I don’t want to be around no one? That bein’ alone and feelin’ the hurt was what a man needed after what Maria done.

It's common to put the thoughts in italics, especially a lengthy bit. Or you can put "he thought" before the passage, or between the sentences. Or you can do both at the same time or alternately. There's a huge amount of internal musing in Dune (science fiction's supreme masterpiece), with all three methods used. It's not easy to open that book to a page that doesn't have italicized thoughts.

If you don't do something, it sounds like you've switched from third person to first.

Anonymous said...

I can't help thinking I've seen this exact scene played out in a movie some time back. Just wish I could remember which movie.

Anonymous said...

Ouch. Maybe I'm just stupid, but I thought paragraph 1 was hard to follow and then it just got worse.

Dave Fragments said...

Seen this in a movie?
Of Course! Mel Brook's brilliant satire "Blazing Saddles" has a sequence where the white slave-drivin' cowboys tell the poor, hard-working black slaves working on da railroad, workin, down, down, down... to SING!
And they sing "I get no kick from champagne" (Cole Porter) in three or four part harmony. Then the ignorant, uneducated cowboys (fools dat dey is) start to sing "De Camptown Ladies" and mimic shuck and jive moves.
It's such a wonderful satire. The continuation just hits the bullseye.

Dave Fragments said...

I had to go offline because the gas man lost my gas meter... Sorry about the two comments.

Is there a reason that Joe is following Kincaid? I mean other than they both are traveling in the same direction? Have the same destination?

You see, I read "“Go away!” Kincaid shouted at Joe." and this "I said ‘Go away’,” the young man shouted again." as repetitive. That's very much me... You see, Kincaid (we eventually find out) is saying "I want to be alone" because his heart is broken. So why don't you have him say that instead of the second "Go away" ?

Maybe have him say "I don't want a partner. I don't need company right now." You see, Anonymous was almost almost right with "I don't need no mammy!" because that's what Kincaid is thinking. Maybe open with that.
"I don't need no companion. I don't need no moth-eaten, former slave following me." Kincaid shouted... para 1... Drop the second Go away...
Joe says: "Thought you said I free..."
Now Kincaid can say more than just "I did"..
"Then why ride with me?"
Being free don't mean you can follow me...

Their dialog gets deeper much faster.
All just suggestions.

PJD said...

A few things bug me about this setup.

First, I think the voice is a little caricatured. Specifically, Can’t that darky see I don’t want to be around no one? That bein’ alone and feelin’ the hurt was what a man needed after what Maria done. If he said out loud, I'd give it to you, but to me it didn't work. YMMV.

Second, Kincaid is too sulky and brooding. What Maria done better have been something really, really awful and not just dumping him. Oh boo hoo, I just want to be alone. I'm a big, strong, manly heroic cowboy but I have a sensitive side, too.

Third, the image of Joe is almost even worse in this one than the other beginning. He's free, we know that, but he acts a little like a lost puppy dog that doesn't know what to do except follow its wonderful master after the leash is removed.

We have a former servant who loves his former master so much he'd die for him (and probably will at some point). We have a manly he-cowboy who has an overwhelming sensitive side but acts like a brooding teenage girl. And we have Maria, who done him wrong. This will be one of three stories: (1) Kincaid wins Maria back. (2) Kincaid forgets Maria and wins another, more deserving woman. (3) Joe and Kincaid end up all Brokeback.

I don't think I'd bother to read on, to be honest. Sorry. Not unless I knew this was going to turn into something a lot more like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

I'm sure others will like it a lot, though.

Robin S. said...

Hi Wes,

I've read your opening a few times this afternoon, trying to decide why I wasn't drawn in, or what felt 'out of kilter'.

And for me, it came down to two things -
1- I think less is more on the replied, snapped, and shouted descriptions when there is dialogue involved. I think it would read better with saying, simply, "...he said", more often than not. Then, when the more descriptive words ARE used, they are powerful.

2- I think this would read more authentically if written in first person. I know you want to hear this like you want to hear a bomb is gonna be dropping on you shortly - and I certainly wouldn't change this because of what one person (me) thinks. But I just thought you might wanna know.

I felt much more engaged in the first opening you had posted here -and didn't need the first person narrative to draw me in - so my idea is probably not the way to go.

Anonymous said...

Guess I'm going to pile on and agree with a lot of what's been said already.

Firstly, the scene does feel a little over-familiar.

Totally agree with EE's comments on internal dialogue. In addition, though, you've also got inconsistency in the narrative, with paragraph one particularly sounding like, as Robin said, it wants to be in first person, yet "the young man shouted again" sounding more like normal, modern English.

The last sentence of para 1 takes a read or two to get straight.

Why does Joe have the pack mule? He was set free, and Kincaid wants him to "go away" with a pack mule loaded up with supplies? Seems Joe did pretty good.

"I don't need no mammy!" Feels like a non sequitur to me. Joe is trailing along some way behind, just following, saying nothing. What's "mammy-ish" about that? "I don't need no shadow!" or something would sound more reasonable.

Joe's dialogue sounds more natural to me than Kincaid's, but I'm not from around those parts so don't know if it's realistic or movie-speak.

I'd like to see the query for this; I'm interested to know what the story really is. There's nothing technical that isn't fixable for a good story.

Ali said...


I agree with both of Robin's points.

Half the time it reads like you're trying to fit a first person p.o.v. into a third person p.o.v. "There wasn’t a need to turn in the saddle and look back" is a totally different voice than "since he come trottin’ up with the pack mule in tow." I think you need to decide if you're writing in Kincaid's voice or not, and if you really want to write in Kincaid's voice it should be first person.

Anonymous said...

If you want to be widely read, it might help to lose the appalling dialect. The first impression is that you have produced an unpalatable Uncle-Tom's-Cabin-meets-Tonto-&-the-Lone-Ranger-in-blackface type project.

none said...

The query is here.

I don't think there's much wrong with the scene; it just needs to be a little clearer.

Maybe move the opening dialogue down a little lower:

Kincaid didn't need to turn in his saddle and look back. He knew Joe was there...was loaded so.
"Go away!"


none said...

or "maybe" even....

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments. I am seriously considering them.

Actually, the query buffysquirrel linked to is for a different book, the first in the series. This one, only 25% in draft, picks up after Kincaid learns Maria is pregnant with his rival's child. Kincaid and Joe witness the exploitation of the hacienda system, and they must make difficult choices during revolts within NM and the invasion by Texas.

Thanks, again.

none said...

Sorry about that, Wes!

Anonymous said...

they must make difficult choices during revolts within NM and the invasion by Texas.

That was not an invasion by Texas. It was a political correction. Don't mess with Texas, buster.

Wes, I'm afraid I'm with Ali on the voice thing. I'm having the same consternation over it here that I had in the first opening. Like you can't decide on POV. Sorry.

Hey Buffy, how come the link in your post works and mine in another thread don't? They were tagged as links, they look like links, but they don't link. :o(


Anonymous said...

Wes said: "Actually, the query buffysquirrel linked to is for a different book, the first in the series"

I had been about to comment that I much preferred your previous opening that was posted on the blog a while earlier... but now I'm guessing that was the opening for the previous book?

Assuming this is the case... if you are married to this particular opening, then I suggest getting rid of the first line ("Go away!" Kincaid shouted at Joe) entirely. Re-read the first few paras with that in mind, and see what I mean.

Also, being that this is clearly written in Kincaid's POV, I'd avoid any use of epithets for Kincaid such as 'the young man' (or in your previous opening 'the lad') because that is only appropriate for omniscient POV. The effect when you do this in third-person limited makes the reader think, however momentarily, that there's a third person in the scene, someone who Kincaid is describing as 'the young man', who is also shouting at Joe.

Agree with the others about needing to fix up that internal dialogue somehow.