Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Beginning 761

We don't actually take our clothes off.

I'm not saying it's never happened, I mean, you know, there's been once or twice when a girl's had a few too many brandies from that special bottle Mirabelle keeps behind the bar. But that could happen anywhere.

Shadowlife has been here since Paloma was a Spanish fishing village with just a couple of beach restaurants for the tourists. The day I turned 18, I walked in looking for a job. I told Mirabelle I was new to the Costa but this old bloke drinking whisky in the dark piped up with the truth.

"That's Big Jim's girl," he said.

There was no use in denying it; if you asked around the place, you'd hear about my dad pretty quickly. He ripped off half the coast before he slipped away in the middle of the night, leaving us behind. My mamá still has a photo of him on the wall, half-grin on his face, winking at the camera. Mamá says he was a charmer. She never found anyone else. All my life, she’s been telling me never to risk happiness on a man, making me promise not to turn out like him and break her heart.

Well Mamá could talk. She was quite the little heartbreaker herself in her day. So which was it to be? Turn out like Big Jim, or turn out like--

"Yeah. Gotcha. What about that place, over there. Do the girls there take their clothes off?"

Brennans? They take everything off. Nothing left to the imagination there. If I was working
there Mamá would kill--

"Think I'm gonna go to Brennans. Thanks for asking, though."

Opening: Sylvia.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

I think the writing is good enough to hook us, and thus you don't need to start with the hooky first line. Or the following paragraph. They seem out of place there anyway.

I would put paragraphs 1 & 2 after paragraphs 3,4 5. (Adding "in Shadowlife." to the first sentence and combining it with p.2)

I make this suggestion on the assumption there's a reason the narrator is bringing up the fact that they don't take off their clothes, and that you're about to get to it after p.5.

Dave Fragments said...

I read the opening and I don't know if a man or a woman is speaking. I don't know the character's name and yet I read about Mirabelle, Paloma, Shadowlife, Costa, Big Jim, and Mama with an inflection. Lots of info in only a few words.

I know you think that the line "That's Big Jim's girl," he said. solves some of the confusion but it's ambiguous in my eyes. Why? Because of this ending in the next paragraph -- making me promise not to turn out like him and break her heart.

It's the details that pull against the whole... IMO.
If the drunk said something like: "You're Big Jim's girl, ain'tcha?" That provides clarity and context for the reader.

Let me fuss about another choice of words (most likely I have three of these in the story I'm writing, so don't feel bad).
He ripped off half the coast...
How about cheated, flim-flammed, scammed or some other expression. "Ripped off" always sounds to me like he Raban in Dune ripping the jowls off the pig's head and chewing them. Or when I rip the leg off a roasted chicken like a barbarian.

What is the relationship between Shadowlife, Paloma and Costa? The second paragraph is imprecise about that. At first I thought Shadowlife was a video game, then a the bar that Mirabella worked at and then you used the word "Costa"... Just a touch confusing this early in the opening chapter.

And last, are we talking about strippers? Pole dancers? Bar maids? or underwear-clad barista serving espressos? Or Go-Daddy's half-nekid car wash attendants with big sponges.

150 said...

I'd keep reading. You may want to watch for the chattiness; I don't know whether "I mean, you know" are necessary in pgh 2.

Word ver = terbe, which is wasted on a writing sample that was not, for once, terbe.

fairyhedgehog said...

Ah. I was about to say that I liked the opening but I see that EE has a better idea.

I did like it though.

Anonymous said...

. . . making me promise not to turn out like him and break her heart.

This snagged my brain. For a moment, I thought I had the gender of the narrator wrong all along; it's a guy. No, it's a girl.

Minor complaint. I think the writing is fine.

_*rachel*_ said...

That first line is definitely a hook. Definitely.

But to me it feels like you went off on too many tangents after that. What I'd do is shift everything after "There was no use denying it" to someplace more appropriate for exposition.

After the "no use" bit, get back to how she started working at Shadowlife, and then back to why it matters now that they don't actually take their clothes off, and what's happening.

This has a really good voice.

wendy said...

I liked the first line too.

However, Evil's rearangement would clean the piece up, and it definitely needs that too.

I was interested. It kept me reading through the first half, but then I had to force myself to finish. I think I need to have more of a reason to care about the MC. Some context would be nice, as well. Kinda feels like the action is floating in space.

It's obvious you can write, and you've got a good start with this piece. Good luck.

Sylvia said...

Author here!

The continuation cracked me up! We do have some clever anons

You know, that's the third time I've been caught not making the gender of my narrator clear by you guys. It's clearly a problem of mine but I never see it - too close.

The second reference ("break her heart") is intentional but of course that doesn't work if you aren't clear that she's female from the start.

It's a hostess bar with dancing - they do actually take *some* clothes of but yeah, it's not like that Brennans place!

I was going for a chatty but defensive feel - she's not totally comfortable with the job but wants to sound like it's nothing, wants to sound like the other girls do. It looks like I overdid it.

I'll have a play at rearranging and keeping it more focused. Thanks!