Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Beginning 539

"Have I ever told you about the second guy I killed? Not the first, killing my dad was kind of boring when you get down to the telling."

The conversation died down, everyone looked to the head of the table.

"I was walking along, just in front of this restaurant, though the restaurant wasn't here, yet. This punk jumps out and stabs me. I turn and hit him as hard as I can. Pure instinct. I was pretty fit back then and my aim wasn't too good. I hit him in the temple and he goes down, dead. I faint like a pussy a few seconds later.

"They tell me he used a razor knife. I never saw it, but I remember it like it was a peg you tie a rope around on a sailing ship with a two edged shaving razor like my dad used to use on people stuck in the handle. Or I can remember it as a cut-throat razor. Or a bayonet. Or a Cadillac with fins.

"I won't imagine it like that. I remember it like that. Ain't that the damnedest thing?

"By the way, I've hired an outside contractor to get rid of this big galoot." Jed jerked his thumb toward the groom-to-be as he uttered the sentence.

"That won't be necessary," his daughter told him, smiling the same smile she had learned to plaster on her face whenever her father opened his mouth in public. "I have a feeling the wedding is off at this point, anyway."

Opening: D Jason Cooper.....Continuation: freddie


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

The galoot had one breath left in him and raised his head and pointed at the godfather.

“Youse gonna get yours when Billy the Rope hears about this.”

“Yeah, well here's more of yours,” said the godfather, as he smashed the galoot with a chair, shot him in the head and slashed his throat. “Reminds me of my third killing,” he said with a snicker as he sat back down.

--Bill H.

The conversation picked up again at that, everybody turning away from the talkative man at the head of the table. Someone hollered for Smee to pass the corn bread. Someone else threw a hunk at the asker, splattering him in the face with honey-and-butter-drenched yellow.

The orderlies looked at each other. "I don't care that they make such a mess with the food fights," one said, shaking his head. "It is Thanksgiving, after all, and they're entitled to a little bit of fun. But Mario Puzo over there thinking he's the Godfather just gets old, yannow?"

"Yeah, I know what you mean," said the second orderly, "But at least there's the firehoses after, when WE get to have fun, too."


writtenwyrdd said...

I really like the first line, but the opening doesn't take advantage of my pricked ears to give me something really good as a follow up. I think it's because when you switch to the description of the suddenly silent room, which I loved, you don't take advantage of that reaction. Going to the description of the killing (para 3) actually takes away from the drama of the moment.

Nice starting point, I think.

Evil Editor said...

P.2: replace comma with semicolon or period or "and."

P.4: The description of the knife is confusing, partly because a couple modifiers are misplaced or need punctuation:

a sailing ship with a two edged shaving razor

people stuck in the handle

This is more clear:

I remember it as a peg you tie a rope around on a sailing ship, but with a two edged shaving razor stuck in the handle.

If you need the part about the dad, you can put --the kind my dad used to use-- after "razor."

What is the razor stuck in the handle of? The peg? I assumed the "peg" was the handle, in which case the razor is stuck in it, not in its handle. Does a peg even have a handle?

Anonymous said...

I like it. The dialogue sounded very authentic, the way 'that kind of guy' would talk. Nice job...

...dave conifer

Stacy said...

The description of the knife confused me, but EE fixed it. I would delete the rest of the names for it (cut-throat razor, bayonet, etc.). They feel superfluous. That may be intentional for the character, though.

I would also change I was pretty fit back then and my aim wasn't too good, changing 'and' to 'but'.

I don't get the imagining vs. remembering part. Did this guy kill or didn't he? Is this something that exists solely in his mind? Probably I would read on for another paragraph or two, but if these questions aren't answered soon, I'd move on to something else.

Evil Editor said...

I assumed the speaker didn't actually see what he was stabbed with, but now finds himself remembering the event in detail--but different details each time.

Stacy said...

Different details regarding the knife. I see.

Dave Fragments said...

Small matters. Single words and stuff.

I thought the opening sentence was great. It talks of two murders, the first of which was apparently the speaker's father.

And then it hits that sentence about the conversation dying off. And all the tension dissipates. It's cold and passionless. It's the structure and words that just take away from the story.

If you say: "The conversation stopped. Heads turned." That works for me.
Or "My guests went silent, listening."

I think I want to see a link to the speaker and the guests.

My other problem was with "I won't remember it that way" ...
is it really "won't" or is it "can't" or is it "don't" ... I'd need some more of the story before I really understand that statement. This might be just a problem of where the opening or segment stopped.

writtenwyrdd said...

See, I didn't get what you got out of it, EE. All I got was confused by that memory.

EB said...

I dig dialogue, so I like this kind of opening.

I might tweak that first sentence a bit: "Killing my dad was kind of boring when you get down to it, but how about the second guy I killed. I ever tell you about that?" Just a suggestion, of course, but starting right out with the killing dad/boring bit is a real neat hook.

EE's pointed out the issues with the description of the razor knife. It's a bit too much. But I like the cut-throat razor/bayonet/caddy fins bit.

The biggest problem, however, is what WW says: the actual description of the killing is (ahem) pedestrian. It's a mugging gone bad? The MC kills the guy by accident. I have a hard time thinking of how killing dear old Dad could be less interesting than that.

Good start, though. I'd read on.

Scott from Oregon said...

One of the benefits of being in construction, is that there are a lot of good story tellers around, waiting for a lunch break.

There is a balancing act between too much info and not enough, and a way to weave your story with a beginning, middle, and end.

OK, all that is obvious.

I guess my point is, your story teller in your story is telling a story. The way to make it riveting is to imagine you are hearing the best story you have ever heard. What makes it so good?

When you confuse your story with confusing razor and ship posts analogies, you ruin a good story.

Try to be the recipient of this story as you write it. Imagine you are sitting around with a beer, after work on a friday, and your character starts talking.

Dave Fragments said...

I bumped into this through the Bookninja website. It's good in so many ways.
Don't ever give up, anyone out there! That's the message.

Published at 93 years old

McKoala said...

That first speech is breathtaking! Gotta read on after that. Alas I got a bit lost and confused in the para about the knife, but no doubt, I'd keep going.

Beth said...

Great continuation.

Otherwise, what Writtenwyrdd said. Intriguing start and guests' frozen silence had great potential, but as the narrator kept rambling on and getting more and more confusing, I lost interest.

D Jason Cooper said...

I have always had trouble with that bit about the knife. On old sailing ships ropes to the sails were tied around pegs which were in holes set around the outer deck and the masts. The pegs had a longer tapered end which went in the hole to anchor it. Then there was a circular crossbar and then the shaped section the ropes was tied around. The speaker remembers the knife as if a double sided razor was put into the hilt, making it an odd sort of knife.

The point about remembering, not imagining, simply indicates the strength of the images. They don't fasde in, they take over instantly and completely.

For long termers: This happens after the guy who can grow to twelve feet takes out one of their better thugs, the widow of Mr Hyde, so it is a continuation rather than an opening.

writtenwyrdd said...

Re having trouble with a particular patch of writing. I have learned the hard way (and need to relearn on a regular basis) that if you are struggling with something like this, it is often because it shouldn't be there in the story in the first place. You are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, so to speak, and it doesn't flow with the overall work.

So you might consider cutting out that section and stashing it in your Purple Prose of Wonder file and see if the story flows more easily without it. Or, I'm completely wrong and bashing one's head against the proverbial wall is useful for inciting the flow of creative juices.

batgirl said...

Published by a high-priced vanity press (Authorhouse) at 93 years old, so maybe not as encouraging as it seems? Check out the Making Light blog for a clearer view.