Saturday, May 31, 2008

New Beginning 507

I killed for the first time when I was fifteen. I could have done nothing to prevent it, except die myself. A shadow fell in step to me on the street and ten minutes later I was in the ring, the same cold, dirt-floored pen they used for the dogs, one hand tied behind my back and the other holding a knife. I had to kill or be killed. Not much of a choice, although I didn't know it then. I didn't know it for a long time, in fact. Because whether or not it was against my will is irrelevant. I've done other kinds of killing since then: mercy, revenge. Downright murder, even. It all feels the same, if you ask me. Taking another man's life is a little like taking your own. You still die. It's just slower.

"Uh, you were right all along, pal. You were here first. My mistake. Please, do take that last Danish."


Opening: freddie.....Continuation: anon.

15 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:


"And that's what I told the cop when he busted me."
I glanced over my shoulder at my cellmate.

"Wow, you really take Method Acting to the extreme." He grunted.

"Yeah, now I'm doin' life. By the way, what's that you're tattooing on my back?"

"Breasts."

--r. lyle wolfe

Evil Editor said...

Not much of a choice,

"Not much difference either way" comes closer to what I think you're trying to say here.


I'd remove "Because whether or not it was against my will is irrelevant." from it's current location, start a new paragraph, and put that sentence (without the "because") after "if you ask me." And change "downright" to "outright."

Julie Weathers said...

I liked this premise, but it needed a break. Of course, I am horrible about starting new paragraphs at the drop of the hat and I always have a hat.

BuffySquirrel said...

*stands on Julie's dropped hats*

Now what ya gonna do?

:)

Robin S. said...

Hey freddie-

I think you've got a compelling set up here - the first line is a hook if I ever read one.

I think you just need a fine-tuning of an edit.

I wouldn't presume to rewrite your work and lose your style for you - so here's just a slight reworking:

I killed for the first time when I was fifteen. I could have done nothing to prevent it, except die myself. A shadow fell in step with me on the street and ten minutes later I was in the ring, the same cold, dirt-floored pen they used for the dogs, one hand tied behind my back and the other holding a knife.

Kill or be killed; not much of a choice, although I didn't know it then. Didn't know it for a long time.

I've done other kinds of killing since then: mercy, revenge. Downright murder, even. It all feels the same, if you ask me. Taking another man's life is a little like taking your own. You still die. It's just a slower kind of death.


Anyway- I like what you've written. I'd read on.

Julie Weathers said...

*stands on Julie's dropped hats*

Now what ya gonna do?

:)~

Cry. A lot. I've just been pricing a new hat and I think $1,000 for a hat is not in the realm of possibilities right now. I will have to get the old one refurbished.

I actually did write a story about a politician, showgirl, Wonder Horse and red once on a dare. It included dropping a hat.

freddie said...

Thanks for the comments!

This is actually a rewrite of the prologue to one of my novels. You may remember that one started with "I'm not handsome and I'm not ugly. . . . " I didn't like that beginning because it revealed nothing about the character, and it just wasn't a hook.

EE - Noted. Will change.

Julie - You mean a break into a new paragraph, right? Or was it just so heartbreaking and scary that you needed a break? ; )

Robin - Great suggestions! I will keep these in mind for the next round of edits.

Whew. I feel like I'm finally crawling out of this writing abyss I've been in lately.

Julie Weathers said...

*laughs*

No paragraph break. I actually liked the story very much.

"I've done other kinds of killing since then: mercy, revenge. Downright murder, even. It all feels the same, if you ask me."

I would think mercy killing and revenge would feel quite different, but who knows.

"Taking another man's life is a little like taking your own. You still die. It's just slower."

I liked this a lot.

Scott from Oregon said...

"I could have done nothing to prevent it, except die myself".

This reads illogically to me. Is it a colloquialism, and therefore understood?

"I had to kill or be killed. Not much of a choice, although I didn't know it then. I didn't know it for a long time, in fact."

Why would you not be able to know that "kill or be killed" was not much of a choice? That would be the first realization I'd come to if I was offered that choice.

"I've done other kinds of killing since then: mercy, revenge. Downright murder, even. It all feels the same, if you ask me."

This guy must be fully psychopathic then, unable to differentiate...

"Taking another man's life is a little like taking your own. You still die. It's just slower."

Again with the logic. How can one know what taking one's own life is like? I mean, and then be able to compare it? There is an odd comparison you can get out of this, but it takes work...

freddie said...

Hey Scott -

The point of the paragraph is to show that the character was caught in an impossible situation and had to kill to survive. And although he doesn't think much about it at the time—because killing is rather routine in his world—as he moves through his life he begins to question it and feel pretty shitty about it. About ALL of it. So the paragraph, if you were to read on, will (hopefully) show that the opposite is happening: he's gaining a conscience.

I don't think it's hard to make the connect that killing someone else—if you have any conscience at all—would be a little like taking your own life. I would think a piece of you dies, at least on an emotional level.

Did anyone else see any logistical problems? I want to make it clear that the MC is moving from a cold-blooded person to someone who actually feels something. Did this not come across?

Robin S. said...

Hey freddie-

No- I didn't have the logic-flow problems Scott had. I figured this guy was thinking through things.

And often, one person's experience colors his/her generation and definition of what does and does not constitute rational thought -
as with, in this narrator's mind, that killing is the same - regardless of the reason for it.
He's numbed by experience.

freddie said...

Robin, exactly! That's what I was going for.

Phoenix said...

Hi freddie:
My takeaway from the read is that the MC at this point not only doesn't care whether he lives or dies, but feels the same whether killing compassionately or cold-heartedly. I could scrape some sympathy together for him up until he admits he's committed out-and-out murder -- and that it all feels the same.

I didn't have any issues with the descriptions as Scott did. There's a bit of license taken in the MC's last observation about it being a slower death, but I think that's observational license and philosophic license, but that's OK. However, if that last observation was supposed to be a hint at conscience, that didn't come across for me. I thought it more of a "hell, we're all dying anyway so what's the difference if I kill or someone kills me" attitude, except more poetic.

But showing the progression toward conscience-building is a lot to ask of 150 words. I'd give it a bit longer to see what develops.

Scott from Oregon said...

Hi freddie-- Much of the logic flow comes from the first person, and the way you've chosen to have him unfurl his thoughts.

If things "become clear" i.e. his confusion, don't worry about my confusion.

You have to sell me on this guy's way of relating and then the logic issues sort of clear up. In other words, his confusing way of relating becomes character and not flaw.

freddie said...

Hmm. I may have to tweak this a bit more, but for now I'm going to move on to the third paragraph.

I feel a little silly saying that. Like I've spent all day on two paragraphs.