Wednesday, October 01, 2008

New Beginning 557

The mist crackled with static electricity as the storm clouds rose high above the De Carteret ranch. A constant rumble vibrated the ground as the combine and its army of trucks turtled along the dirt roads, trying to reach the barns before the rain. Thunder made the horses skittish. They kicked at the stall doors as lightning flashed, turning twilight to noon with strobe-like brightness. Two-dozen ranch hands sprinted against time, trying to subdue nature, store the hay bales, load the crops and shelter the equipment. A cold wind rushed from the western sky announcing the storm as the ranch hands and truckers covered their loads with canvas. Paired together for the next few days as they began the long ride to the commodities auctions.

Fat drops of rain raised dry dust before making mud. The raindrops thumped against the roof of the barn as the last trucked rolled out of the doors. A bolt of lightening crossed from the heavens to the farm's electric transformer eight times before it stayed in the clouds. The transformer burst open, raining sparks and flaming oil onto the road. The line fell limp as the transformer and pole burnt. The victory of flame short-lived. A wall of water poured out of the sky as the storm broke. Dust turned to mud, rain barrels overflowed to cisterns, French drains gushed and mud streams became torrents. Kakashi retrieved a lantern from the barn as the electric flickered, dimmed and went out. A second figure left the barn with a lantern and like fireflies, the pair sprinted from the barns to the house in the deluge.

Kakashi reached the house first and burst into the kitchen. Water puddled around him as he put down the lamp and hauled off his thick leather boots. Minutes later, Dan De Carteret lurched inside. Water dripped from the end of his nose and his thick cotton shirt was soaked a deep blue and stretched across his belly.

De Carteret glared at his Native American foreman. "God dammit, Kakashi!" He put down his lantern and grabbed a towel. "Next time you drop a hammer on your foot, try not to do a God damned rain dance!"

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

Continuing the mad dash toward the house, Kakashi paused, jogging in place as the last soldier in the army of trucks pulled onto the slick road. With a fresh burst of speed, Kakashi hurtled over downed trees and the remnants of the utility pole. Thunder rattled the German gutters, rain pounded down with the intensity of a frat boy's piss against a urinal midway through a kegger and the wind blew. Tumbleweeds of sound in the blackness. The lantern flickered like a firefly as Kakashi vaulted over the massive combine, floating like a butterfly until he landed with a thud, impaled on the upright prongs of the header.


Mupperty Sock flopped into the box alongside Pupperty Glove.

'Some show, huh?'


* * *

Marie tutted. "So, it israining, then?"

"Yup." Bruce let go of the drape and turned from the window. "That's what I said."

"Thank you. That's all I wanted to know."

Bruce rubbed at his stubble. "Guess I'd better go let the cat back in."

"I guess, Bruce. I guess."

Bruce trudged toward the kitchen as lightning turned the drapes electric blue. Yup, he was all done trying to make Marie's life a little more interesting.


Evil Editor said...

The description is a list, and all lists become boring at some point. Intersperse the items in the list with some dialogue and actions by the main characters. More focus on the people will make it more interesting.

Dick Margulis said...

The description is a list? The description is a friggin' LIST?!?!? That's all you've got, EE? That's the purplest damn "list" I've read since entries closed for this year's Bulwer Lytton awards. How about cutting out, oh, I dunno, maybe 99 percent of the adjectives and replacing the "colorful" verbs (turtled????) with something plainer that makes the point? That would be a start. Then we can worry about whether the description is a list or not.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I like turtled for it's apt description of what's going on. But EE's right on about the list. I stopped reading because it was getting to me.

Love the descriptions, Dave, but I need some variety.

Scott from Oregon said...

Yeah.... a bit too much like one of those stagecoach in the middle of nowhere movie openings, where you get wheels turning, mud flicking up, little critters scurrying and Indians hiding in the tall grass...

If it goes on too long you start wondering what's going on in the theatre next door, where people seem to be chuckling over something...

Mix in people and dialogue or the writer's indulgence becomes the reader's annoyance.

I liked much of the description, I just thought it was too much piled too high without a reason to care being given in the form of people and a story.

Dave Fragments said...

JEEPERS, EE's out of openings.

Dave Fragments said...

Thanks. I wrote this story for a friend who suggested the "scarecrow" storyline. I wrote to his plot and he loved it. Then I wrote a second story for myself. That was NB-555. I just revised the crap out of that story. (It's Halloween. think scary, think guy turned into scarecrow against his will).

Now this story, what can I say. I needed a setup to get Kentigern De Carteret (nicknamed Kakashi, which is "scarecrow" in Japanese because the nickname for Kertigan is "Mungo"... Would you want "mungo" as a nickname?).
I digress. I needed to get Kakashi in the same house as the other man. The second man will certainly not remain nameless. That's a flaw the continuation pointed out. ANON mixed up the names. ANON also named the wrong character as American Indian. My bad, not ANON's bad.

I guess the lesson is: beware of writing for friends. They will rave at seeing their storyline in B&W and praise it to high heaven. Kinda like falling in love with your own words. And even now, knowing all this, I'm trying to find reasons not to fix the story. Shameful isn't it. Revision is such a beast. Even revising the obviously bad because then you really do have to admit it's bad. If I just shove it onto the hard drive, or post it to the website with a dedication to my friend, no one will care because I can word the dedication to blame it all on him. The saddest part of all this silly attempt at "non-work" is that I write good dialog and I almost never create an opening with no dialog (like this opening).

DAMN! It's hard to revise, ain't it?

The Cartoon strip XKCD in today's entry makes fun of made up names in fiction novels. It's at

Robin B. said...

Hey EE, maybe we can do one of those 'submit a scene' things like you do with writing exercises sometimes - we could submit a romantic scene, death scene, first meeting scene, etc., and spread them out one day, rather than all on the weekend. Just a thought.

Robin B. said...

That was supposed to read "one a dat" like the New Beginnings - and they coudl each wait for a continuation, etc.

Sorry- should've said - but I'm typing this between meetings...

PS- that continuation is a riot.

Robin B. said...

Damn. It.

"one a day", NOT "one a dat".

I'm finished now, no matter the misspellings.

Whirlochre said...

Yes — it's listy.

Most of these lines are evocative, but taken as a piece, it's an overload.

Losing half of this won't hurt — and anything you cut can be recycled, I'm sure.

WouldBe said...


I have similar thoughts to WO. I liked the bits, but it is bit much.

I've been through several hurricanes, though, and I've seen this sort of determined death march going on in whole neighborhoods...putting up shutters, putting away lawn stuff, sandbagging. Usually, the storm's outer edge reaches you far in advance of the tropical storm-force winds, so you'd see this sort of frenzy in the rain. And if you were late in preparation, you might see a transformer blowing up.

writtenwyrdd said...

Nice imagery but listy, like everyone else notes. I loved the continuation, too!

Dave Fragments said...

This is a thunderstorm and they are quick, fast storms. I've done the drill. Grab everything and run like hell because in five minutes from the sky darkening, you're in a downpour.

It happened just today in fact. I had to get my short, stubby gray hair made shorter and stubbier today. I went to get into my car and it was sunny. I went back inside to piddle and heard thunder and by the time I made it to the car, the rain was overflowing the gutters. Three miles from my house was dry as a desert (or a good martini).

I was in Clearwater, Florida (near Tampa) years ago when a thunderstorm blew in from the Gulf and we had about five minutes warning. The beach furniture around the swimming pool just played havoc with the cars in the parking lot. The winds hit 100 miles per hour and ripped down partitions, stranded the people in the beach and all sorts of nasty stuff. And in about 15 minutes, it was gone. Except for a coworkers car that was decapitated by a tin table - in the back windshield and out through the front windshield...

Hurricanes are bad but they are slow. Thunderstorms are fast. I've seen trees struck by lightning, high tension transmission lines, and just two months ago, a transformer blown up just like this.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty well overwritten, trying way too hard.

"Fat drops of rain raised dry dust before making mud."

Wow, so that's how mud is made? Who would have guessed. And is there any other kind of dust besides dry dust? The list is full of unnecessary adjectives describing uninteresting nouns.

Take your own advice, Dave. Cut half the words. Doesn't matter which half. Then edit judiciously the remaining half.

The continuation was a riot!

Anonymous said...

Not to pile on, but yeah, way wordy and trying way too hard. I mean, sprinting against time? Seriously, they're trying to get their stuff out of the rain. And how are they trying to subdue nature? Are they going to fight off the thunder clouds? Maybe just racing mother nature, huh?

Anonymous said...

not piling on


nothing to add

talpianna said...

EE, have you called the deprogramming team from Roget's and the guy from the OED yet to schedule the intervention for Dave?

Wes said...

EE, I like Robin's suggestion of submitting scenes. Doing so would help us with our WIPs.

Dave Fragments said...


What y'all don't know that EE and I know, is that I sent this opening hoping it would get picked apart. I'd post the revision but I want to work on it for another day or two, maybe three.

EB said...

Tal - That's hysterical.

Dave - I'll say this, your style seems different in nearly everything I've read of yours. I'm not a fan of opening with weather, but here you've got a big, fast storm muscling in, so there's some tension there. Yet I found the strength of the storm diluted by the writing. Purpley prose and extraneous details pulled me away (eg, "...the long rise to the commodoties auctions").

Bravo on the continuation.

talpianna said...

Benwah, if you want some powerful writing about weather, try Storm by George R. Stewart.