Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Beginning 687

Coach Chahuank greeted me. He had an amazing deep red complexion. "You're going to tell me you want to win," he said. He knew my thoughts before I knew them, a man of second-sight, sibylline even. I wanted to be the quintessential older athlete who might never have the full bloom of youth again but could still be a champion. In this, the most important interview of my life, I filled myself with bravado.

"I want to be the best ever," my answer.

"The Olympic team might have accepted you but for that video."

"Supposed to be private. I sued the distributor but the internet protects anonymous real well. I'm not proud of it and I won't apologize."

"It's one thing to wank for the camera. It's another to throw yourself at six men."

"An acting job. It paid four years of my Bachelors degree. One of the stupid old farts governing swimming actually called it the crime that dare not speak its name, like we're living in Victorian England."

"And the dolphin?"

"They told me it was a man in a suit. I didn't realize it was real until it was too late."

Chahuank nodded, slowly. "I guess that's understanda--"

"Their loss, it was. Look at me now. Third interview today, eleventh of the week. My fame precedes me like the feathers of a peacock walking backwards. Discipline, dedication, hard work, it's all very well, but for a shot at that elusive target--fame, fortune and your own reality show--follow Pamela, Paris, all the greats: whore yourself out on Youtube.

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Khazar-khum/Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

"All I have to say is that you're out of here if you ever do it again. One Jehovah's Witness on the team is bad enough--I don't want to deal with converts."


"Really? Who's that then?"

"Sadistic Schwimmmeister. Guy's a freak. Sideburns like dead rats."

"Oh him. Yeah, we know all about him- he is living in Victorian England. Makes the whole team wear these stripey, neck-to-knee swim suits. Talk about criminal. You should meet his cousin. Works in publishing. He sent my memoir manuscript back to me with a fondue fork stuck through it. Said it was rambling, long-winded, and probably of no interest to the-"

"Mmmm, yes. Right, so, am I on the team or what?" Ok, so maybe the guy didn't know my thoughts...

--Mother (Re)produces

"Now you can insult the governors of swimming all you like, but you leave Victorian England out of this." Coach pointed at me like I was some kind of criminal.

"Whatever. I used sex tapes to buy my degree and I'll use sex tapes to buy this program. We can do this the easy way or the hard way."

"You sure drive a hard bargain, Ms. Hilton...I guess I have no choice. Welcome to the team, Paris. It looks like you're America's next great hope in olympic swimming."


Dave Fragments said...

Does first person hurt this? Could it be better in 2nd person?

Evil Editor said...

Unless I'm mistaken, you aren't accepted onto the Olympic swimming team, you earn your way on. So while the swimmer could be thrown off because of the video, if there were no video it wouldn't have been a matter of being accepted onto the team.

"It paid for my bachelor's degree." is better than "It paid four years of my Bachelor's degree."

Both these people know the name of the governing organization, so the speaker wouldn't say "One of the stupid old farts governing swimming...", but rather, "One of the stupid old farts on the US Olympic Committee..." or whatever the group is.

Actually. "Someone on the US Olympic Committee...' is better, as the speaker doesn't want to offend the coach, who may actually know the stupid old fart. In "the most important interview of my life" you might want to show some decorum.

It would be nice to know if the speaker is male or female.

Evil Editor said...

2nd person would have to be in present tense, and if it's any longer than flash fiction, no one will want to read it. 3rd person would be the easiest way to get the character's gender into it. 1st person tends to stay in the same POV; if you'll want to be in other POVs you might find 3rd easier.

Dave Fragments said...

I ran into lots of problems with first person and I goofed up the question. I meant third person. Sorry about that, my mistype.

I found that between the dialog and the narrative, there were too many "I did" or "I think" from the main character. When I switched to 3rd person, I could use "he" in the narrative non-dialog without if stepping on the dialog's "I".

The entire story is this discussion between the two men. I never realized that the main character was that sex-less and anonymous. The main character is Sam Hayes who I used in the Pirate Exercise. I created his backstory to cover four generations and then never let the reader in on it. My bad.

Dave Fragments said...

BTW, good continuation KK. I might even steal the idea for the story.

Anonymous said...

" amazing deep red" are one too many words to describe complexion. I don't know what an "amazing" complexion is- the word you're looking for is startling.

"You're going to tell me you want to win," .... He knew my thoughts before I knew them, a man of second-sight, sibylline even. (I want to love this. The voice is good, but the section just reads awkward to me. I don't know how a coach knowing she want's to win is "Sibylline". People who play sports want to win. There's no mystery in this.)

"I wanted to be the quintessential"...blah blah blah." In this, the most important interview of my life, I filled myself with bravado." You have an ability to string words together so they read smoothly but this sentence looses the character's voice- or ages her to sixty reflecting on her misspent youth of 30 (because at sixty, 30 looks young)

"I want to be the best ever,"( this sentence is missing was. "the best ever" is something a kid would say, not someone who's aiming to be the quintessential older athlete.

I like a character with a sex tape, I really do, but Olympic selection has more to do with competition than home videos. I'm also confused. She says she's not proud but she won't apologize and then goes on to defend her decision. It's a little as you know bob, I'm sorry about what I did but I make no apologies because it paid for my college, because I was an Olympic caliber athlete without scholarships and sponsors ...and my main focus was on education, not competition.

I'd like it better if she fucked the six men because she likes sex than having her whoring herself for a bachelors degree (if she's going to be a whore, at least have it earn her a PhD)

I'm troubled by the character's lack of knowledge about her sport and her immaturity on a job interview. How does she know her coach isn't friends with an old fart? People get on the Olympic committee by being old, but once they were athletes too. They're often coaches but if they're not, they intimately connected to the sport and the people in it.

_*rachel*_ said...

To make this really have some zing, I'd say you should cut almost everything but the dialogue.

I assumed female, mostly because of the six men. I could be wrong....

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

I like the idea of this piece, and I love that he refuses to apologize. But I agree that calling the committee stupid old farts is needlessly antagonistic - unless your guy is self-sabotaging or he knows Coach Chahuank hates the swimming governors too. Either way, that line shouldn't pass without comment from the coach.

One assumes in an interview this important that your swimmer is not saying everything on his mind. Perhaps if you include more of his internal monologue we might understand a little more about him.

And personally, I completely believe the Olympic committee would find that a sex tape violates the U.S.O.C. code of conduct. It would be controversial but I could definitely see it happening. If there's one thing we've all learned from "Cool Runnings" and "The Cutting Edge" it's that there's always politics involved in that level of sports.

Mame said...

I barely made it past Coach Chahuank. Horrible name.

There are a lot of flaws here. Deep red complexions aren't amazing unless you mean amazing in their Dermatological oddness.

This makes zero sense to me..."I'm not proud of it and I won't apologize."

Do you mean BUT instead of AND? It makes little sense the way it is.

Your MC doesn't speak like a college graduate in my opinion. And "stupid old farts governing swimming" would only offend a swimming coach, and a swimmer would be at least that smart if they had made it that far.

I'm sorry Dave, but I know you're better than this. Do over, and simplify.

Dave Fragments said...

The history is this:

A) Back in 1996m an Olympic wrestler named Dave Shultz was shot to death at the team facility owned and operated by John E du Pont of the Du Pont family. No motive was ever officially given but John du Pont like to wrestle naked (let's leave it at that. It's less stigmatizing now than it was back then and Schultz was and is a real champion, a spectacular freestyle wrestler.)

B) in 2008, two wrestlers at Edinboro College were thrown off the team for posing naked for still pictures that appeared on the Fratmen and Fleshbot websites. One of the wrestlers returned to wrestling at another college and almost won the NCAA championship but lost due to a technical violation.

C) There was third young man who will remain nameless who didn't just pose for photos, he participated in a three-way with two male porn stars. If I can be rude about it, masturbating for photos is considered bad, actively participating orally and anally is unrecoverable error.

D) The "whatever" that governs swimming forgave Michael Phelps's dalliance with a bong in the previous year. Cheech and Chong would be proud of that committee.

E) Tennis is going to forgive Serena Williams' temper tantrum. They forgave McEnroe years ago, too.

F) The track and field authorities aren't going to forgive Caster Semenya for (in essence) being born.
And that's a shame.

That's the background. What would Sam Hayes, the main character, do to get back the adulation of the crowd and have his new records stand for a decade or two?

Matt said...

I disagree with Aimee, Chahuank is exactly the kind of name a coach would have. Think of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

I also disagree with Rachel in that it would be snappy if it were pure dialogue. If anything, it needs more description (hence the gender confusion).

Stacy said...

This opening is just so . . . wrong, and I mean that in a good way. I'd keep reading to see what else this person has done. But I second the editing suggestions.

And the continuation? Made my afternoon. Totally glad you didn't hold back there, KK.

Anonymous said...

I liked this. Assumed it was a guy, not sure why now that I go back and reread. Something to do with the dialogue, which I think either says something good about you--voicewise--or bad about me--gendered assumptions.

With the last name and the amazing deep red, and reading quickly, I actually assumed the coach was Native American and you were complimenting the beautiful hue of his skin. Another sterotype.

So is it me or you? :-)

Dave Fragments said...

I grew to dislike "Chahuank" as a character name. I wanted a Mayan name like Chichen Itza or Popocatepetl or Quetzalcoatl with those harsh vowel sounds but it didn't work.

I don't stop at hard to pronounce names but if the book is a trilogy or 800 pages, it might put me off starting it for a few months.

none said...

No, what hurts it is the as you know Bob dialogue.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

Hey Dave,

I assumed the speaker was male. In fact, I never once doubted that it was male. My assumption was confirmed with "the crime that dare not speak its name," since homosexuality has been referred to as "the love that dare not speak its name".

I was fine with the first person POV, but I felt some of the info in the first paragraph could have been sprinkled throughout the dialogue.

The writing is solid and the context is interesting. I would read on.

Anonymous said...

I think this was a fine opening and I like your idea Dave. The gender thing is easily fixed like so:

Coach Chahuank greeted me in his swimming trunks and robe. On its back was embroidered, US Men’s Olympic Swim Team in red, white and blue. It seemed to taunt me.

I had told myself I could do this. Convinced myself I had been through worse. The sweat on my upper lip and brow was saying something else. I hoped Chahuank wouldn’t notice but, you know what they say about hope being the last resort of desperate men.

"You're going to tell me you want to win," he said, as if he knew my thoughts before I knew them, a man of second-sight, sibylline even. I wanted to be the quintessential older athlete who might never have the full bloom of youth again but could still be a champion. In this, the most important interview of my life, I filled myself with bravado.

"I want to be the best ever," my answer.

“Pity you got kicked off the team that year. They could of used you.” The unspoken words hanging in the air between us were, ‘you cost us the gold,’ followed closely by, ‘you’re not trustworthy,' or more likely, 'pervert'.

"Supposed to be private. I'm not proud of it and I won't apologize. Tried to sue, couldn't win against anonymous distributors on the internet"

"It's one thing to wank for the camera. It's another to throw yourself at six men."

"An acting job. It paid for my Bachelors degree. I don’t have a defense, but I admit I didn’t think it was fair. It’s not like we're living in Victorian England."

Anyway –

Things went different for Vanessa Williams when her pictures came out. It was probably the best thing that happened to her career, however. Without the publicity she probably would have faded into oblivion like all the other beauty queens – instead she’s a second rate singer and actress. Good for her.

Khazar-khum said...

Thank you guys!

I honestly assumed it was a male swimmer, but decided to go for a female to have a little more fun.

Xiexie said...

My concerns have been voiced by the other minions. I liked this Dave, and I never assumed that the MC was female, in fact I knew it was yours Dave before reading that it was in fact yours.

Is this flash fiction or short story or que?

Dave Fragments said...

"Stupid old farts" is out. But he is referred to as "the Buyer of the video.'
The revision contains Sam Hayes' name in the first sentence. Hence we know he's a boy.
I will convert this to 3rd person because I can describe the speakers feelings better.

Anonymous 11:59
You have good suggestions but you phrase them so harshly that you put people off and turn them defensive.
"Startling" it is.
Sybylline isn't capitalized in my dictionary. The coach looks at Sam Hayes and knows what he wants. Sam puts his past out of his mind by saying to himself the coach is like the Oracle. It's a mental dodge.
The "quintessential" line is still there but third person. Again, It's Sam trying to be something other than what he really is. He doesn't succeed. He keeps blurting out the wrong stuff and trying to cover his false steps. That's why he refuses to apologize. But he's now without a script and he loses control of the conversation.
Is Sam immature? Yes but less than before. This is the conversation where he finally grows up and admits his failures, accepts his punishment. That's the story.
"I want to be the best ever." is dialog and can be lousy English. I kept the words but reframed the surrounding description.
As for his age, he talks old but his actions betray his naivete. Not to mention his inability to stay on message. You can't see the revision.
Do poor teens do stupid things? Yes, I knew a kid who broke his back in a car crash and was going to be a paraplegic for the rest of his life. He signed away his rights to sue for the price of a replacement car. Sad but that's what he wanted. Another reason to hate lawyers.

This started out only as dialog and it doesn't work at all. There's no context in just dialog.

Old farts is gone.
Coach Chahuank has his own agenda. He's not innocent and pure. He's a wizard of sorts. I like writing impure characters, flawed characters with goofy past histories.
My going to third person let me add more internal dialog. I'm not good at internal dialog in first person.

It is "but" and not "and."
The "redness" of his complexion becomes important late in the story. (PS, he's not a vampire.)
And I did sour on the Chahaunk until Matthew liked the name. I gotta think about it harder.

Matthew, Stacy,
Thanks for the comments.

-- Gordon Ramsey is abusing his chefs again, for two hours. I know for a fact that nothing smells worse than pig manure. My work once asked me to host meetings at a "Burning Animal Waste" conference. Nothing smells worse than burning animal waste. Damn Gordon Ramsey!

Dave Fragments said...

Anonymous 4:36.
He's what Sam is going to become. Now there's a complex statement. I said in one of my replies that Coach Chahaunk is a wizard. He's Mayan and dark red complexioned for a specific reason.

Anonymous 5:43
Sam isn't sorry yet. Coach Chahuank slowly destroys him in this conversation. Makes him face his sins.
Your revisions are great but they aren't my words. That doesn't mean anything more than you and I have different voices. So what that means is that tomorrow and the next day, I put all those sentences side by side with my sentences and think hard about which is better.

A short story, about 2800 words.

I'm glad you got the reference. I want this to be adult but not explicit. No "F" bombs. I want to disparage the old attitude but not justify the behavior. If you are going to be an idol to kids, then you behave.
I'm still going to 3rd person. It's easier to write 3rd person for me and make it successful.

vkw said...

Hey Dave 5:43 anon here. Sorry I didn't put in a name or initials, painfully busy day . . . week . . . weeks.

Just playing, I know it wasn't your voice. I like your voice . . . alot. I was trying to help, hope you didn't take it wrong.

I like your story idea. Good luck

Anonymous said...

Dave F
"The track and field authorities aren't going to forgive Caster Semenya for (in essence) being born. "

Actually the media makes it sound like it's a gender issue.

However she wasn't a spectacular runner, not until last year when she started training with her new coach.

He just happens to have been involved in giving steroids to his runners. It was in Russia and apparently sanctioned by the government. However there was a big scandal because he gave so much testosterone (the most common steroid) to one woman, that she has been forced to live like a man. Off course he doesn't give steroids to his runners any more.

In the last year Caster has
1. her speed has increased.
2. Her voice has deepened.
3. Her breasts of shrunk (look at some older photos, she was never real feminine, but the ladies were bigger)
4. Her face has changed shape.
5. She has ten times the testosterone of the average woman.

Of course the high levels of testosterone aren't from using steroids, she was just born that way... people are being unfair to her genetics made her look like a man (and run faster over the last year). She's not just undergoing a gender test, they're also trying to determine if those hormone levels are really nature or something else. I don't feel bad for her at all. She started this by trying to hide steroid use under a gender issue (maybe I am jumping the gun, but there's a lot of data pointing towards drugs).

Dave Fragments said...

I wondered where you were. I've done enough reviews for technical papers over the years to understand what you were suggesting. Thanks for making the comments.

Anonymous said...

"The coach looks at Sam Hayes and knows what he wants. Sam puts his past out of his mind by saying to himself the coach is like the Oracle."

The thing is, I didn't get any of the above out of your excerpt.

The main reason this isn't working in first person is because you're not being true to any of the characters. You're injecting the narrator into the story. Switching to third person will certainly make this easier but it won't make the story better.

Below is an example of a conversation where the MC is forced to face his own BS.It's in first person and I've removed the narrator from the story.

Coach Chahuank has a startling deep red complexion. He draped an arm over my shoulder and said, "You're going to tell me you want to win."

I was silent. How did he know that's what I was thinking?

"Take it easy kid, everybody wants to win. It's not rocket science."

"Oh," I said and felt stupid. " but I don't just want to win. I want to be the best ever."

Coach Chahuank slapped his knee and laughed.

"I was almost on the Olympic team you know. If it wasn't for..."

"The video. Yes I know all about it..."

"I had to do it to pay for college...I'm not sorry. It's not even my fault. Some jackass viraled the video. I would have sued them but I never could figure out who upload it, even though ... "

"Stop right there. That's bull shit and I won't listen to it. What did you think was going to happen. You made porn. You were paid good money because people buy porn and WATCH IT."


"You had scholarships. You wasted them. And you knew the risks."

"You don't like me because I'm gay."

"I have nothing against a man gay or straight, but it's one thing to wank for the camera. It's another to throw yourself at six men and dolphin... And expect everybody to say "that's okay"."

"I didn't realize it was a real dolphin until it was too late."

Chahuank flicked me between the eyes wit his thumb and forefinger. "Its time to wake up and get real. Until you take ownership of your choices, you're just marginal. I don't need a marginal swimmer in my water ballet. You come back when you're ready to drop the bullshit and get real."

Stop celebrating your genius and tell the story.