Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Beginning 847

Mike stood staring at the hole in the fence. This was it. He could back out now, and no one would fault him for doing it.

Except Ben, of course, and Ben was the only reason Mike was here. Even though in his head, Mike knew it wasn’t too late, Ben had a way of making him feel like it was too late, that he was already in too deep. They had come to dig up a grave, and now that Mike was here, shovel in hand, he didn’t feel he could abandon Ben. This was, of course, something on which Ben had counted.

Besides, Mike was curious. They weren’t just digging up any old grave. They were digging up Ben’s father.

“You sure she’s coming?” Mike asked.

“I told you she’s coming. She’s probably already here,” Ben replied. “Come on.” He held the freshly cut metal prongs back so Mike could fit. Mike sighed and tossed his shovel into the hole, where it landed with a soft thud in the grass. Then he climbed through.

"You ever wonder," Ben asked, as he let the stiff steel prongs snap back into place between the two of them, "why we buried our dad in a lion enclosure?"

Mike had wondered. He'd meant to ask about that.

"Here she comes..." Ben said.

Mike heard a low growling in the distance, getting closer. Something loosened in the pit of his stomach.

Maybe he should have asked who Elsa was, too.

Opening: Stacy.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

He came out the other side in Stephen King's head which was full of dancing skeletal creatures wearing clunky gaudy jewellery and dominatrix style footwear. Then a huge wereSt. Bernard lunged at Mike, knocking him back through the hole where he faced an irate Ben. He entered the cemetery through the gate and was forced to choose between the shovel and the spade while Ben's father's body kept rotting while the clock kept ticking.

--Wilkins MacQueen

Ben follwed close behind. They scrambled through some bushes and into the cemetary proper.

"There she is!" Ben pointed to a sillouhette standing near a grave. "Anne!" he shouted.

"Shh!" Mike grasped Ben's shoulder. "Someone will here us."

Anne waved as the two guys made their way over.

Ben pulled a video camera out of his pocket.

"You're going to film this?" Mike asked, incredulous.

"It's going to be classic!" Ben replied.

"Shh! For goodness--"

"What's going on here?"

The three of them turned round to see Sherrif Dell Lubley.

"Lookee here," Lubley said, recognizing them. "Ben Dover, Anne Feal, Mike Rotch..."

Ben flipped the cover shut on his camcorder and gave the signal to run.


Evil Editor said...

The whole second paragraph can go. Just put "Except Ben, of course." at the end of the first paragraph.

Then change "Besides" to "But" in P3 (which is now P2).

Tossed his shovel into the hole makes me think he's tossing it into a grave. Change to "through" the hole. Or perhaps "over the fence," as it wouldn't require a toss to send a shovel through a hole in a fence.

It seems like if they're going to create a hole in a fence, they would create one big enough to crawl through rather than one that requires bending back the metal prongs. Or that if you're going to make a cut in a fence that you're going to bend back, that there wouldn't be a hole for Mike to stare through in sentence one because the bending back hasn't happened yet.

Having created the mystery of why they're digging up Ben's father, I'm not sure we need the second mystery of who "she" is. I would have Mike name her rather than say "she."

iago said...

I couldn't help wondering: If "she" might be here already, did she cut her way through the fence in a different locations, or perhaps just walk in through the gate?

Laurel said...

Thanks for clearing up the mystery of the "shovel into the hole." I couldn't figure out how a freshly dug grave could have grass at the bottom.

Anonymous said...

Could be improved by starting with going thru the fence and revealing backstory facts, if needed, in subsequent paragraphs. Starting with a guy staring blankly while the backstory rolls in his head is not quite so gripping.

Dave Fragments said...

I am so with EE on this opening.

There is sufficient interest created by anyone digging up a grave that you don't need to make it a mystery to attract a reader.

vkw said...

I would definately cut, "this was, of course, something on which Ben had counted."


soft thud in the grass - it's a detail that probably isn't all that necessary and is cluttering the brisk opening the author needs/wants to create

I am also wondering about who she is and wondering why she didn't come with the men.

I would definately pare down the 2nd paragraph, if you don't want to cut it.

Stacy said...

Clearly I have more editing to do, but EE would be proud if he knew how much backstory I cut. Or maybe he wouldn't, but he'd glad about the backstory being cut.

I wasn't purposely trying to create mystery, though. Not all details are going to come in the first 180 words of the story, and as more come, some of the niggling things people mentioned will get worked out. But maybe I'll work those things out sooner.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

Stacy said...

Also, the continuation was hilarious, anon.

Sarah said...

I really, really like this. I think it reveals character, introduces tension, and makes you want to know what happens next.

But I was also really confused about tossing the shovel into the hole. At the very least, Mike should push the shovel through the hole rather than toss it.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Hi Stacy!

I honestly think this is an opening where leading with a strong hooky sentence/paragraph could work really well. The most common complaint for using a shock statement is the author not immediately following up on its promise, but you're already doing that.

Agree that second paragraph can go. If you keep it, the last sentence could be more firmly in Mike's POV.

Stacy said...

Thanks, Sarah! That's the last time I'll flippantly use the word "toss," I can tell you. : )

Phoenix, thanks! A hooky sentence could easily take me more time to come up with than writing the entire story, but I agree that it's important. I'll figure something out . . .

Jodi Ralston said...

I enjoyed this except for one part--where the heck was Ben until he started speaking? I don't like it when the text gives the impression of people pop out of nowhere when they were really there all along.


none said...

Get on with it. Never mind the will-he-won't-he. Just tell the story.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. The will-he-won't-he is from Mike's perspective, so it shows us that he's not certain he WANTs to do this, but then he goes ahead and does it. That's character development.

I'm not talking about para 2, tho'. I agree that can go.