Monday, October 24, 2011

New Beginning 895

Sergeant William Edward Blake, known in the Department as ‘Web’, looked at Lieutenant Rivera as they walked through the sprawling Loves Travel Stop building that housed the Greyhound terminal. Blonde eyebrows rose over blue eyes as he asked, “You really think he’ll be on the bus?”

Gray-haired Rivera was the oldest Lieutenant in the Department of Public Safety (DPS), Arizona’s state-level law enforcement agency. He popped a Tums, chewed it as he walked, looked at the thin young sergeant beside him and remembered what the Chief said when asked why he’d been saddled with the kid: “Web’s sharp; earned his stripes six months ago, already gained minor fame for some shrewd busts. Problem is, he’s still wet behind the ears; he’s gonna step on himself if we aren’t careful. I figure hitching him to a crusty old warhorse like you oughta fix that.”

The chief of Criminal Investigations Division was a man Rivera respected. The two had met in the Highway Patrol, worked their way up to CID. But Rivera refused promotion beyond Lieutenant, preferring to stay out in the field, while his friend rose to become the division chief.

The CID was the top echelon of the DPS, Governor Fallon's attempt to create a specialized unit not unlike the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) on his favorite TV show, Criminal Minds. Other departments of the DPS referred to the CID as Fallon's Folly.

Governor Fallon's rise to power had been fast, starting from city council in Sedona (later mayor) and then lieutenant governor in the scandal-ridden Colson administration.

Jimmy "the Bulgarian" Colson bought his election to the governorship with bribes and blackmail. It was Arizona's darkest hour, and Colson's inevitable impeachment was Fallon's good fortune.
Whether Fallon's connection to the Colson administration would hurt him in the next election remained to be seen.

Rivera popped another Tums and turned to Web. "Yeah, kid," he said. "I think he just might be on the bus."

Opening: Dixon.....Continuation: Evil Editor


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Cut to the chase.

Sergeant Blake looked at Lieutenant Rivera. “You really think he’ll be on the bus?”

The rest is backstory and has no business trying to be frontstory.

If we never find out the color of these gentlemen's respective hair it won't greatly affect the story.

Xiexie said...

Slowwwww here. Get to what's happening. Make your backstory active (if it is at all truly important to the story). We don't really need a reason why these two are partnered unless the story hinges upon that.

Who are they looking for on the bus? Is he on the bus? We'd like to know sooner.

Your writing isn't bad though.

150 said...

Things in this scene I care about:

"Sergeant Blake and Lieutenant Rivera walked through the Greyhound terminal."

Absolutely nothing else is going to keep me reading. I one hundred percent do not care about any of the backstory until I see these characters in action.

Evil Editor said...

This is the opening of a short story, in case that fact affects anyone's comment.

We're getting way too much information about . . . everything. Even “You really think he’ll be on the bus?” is probably something Web would have asked when Rivera said "Let's get over to the bus station," not when they were already there.

Dave Fragments said...

I don't care about the infodump. You can dump all the info that's important in the opening you want but there's no attention grabbing tidbit or interesting conundrum to pull the reader thru the info dump.

Think about creating something like this with all that information:

"Do you think Dracula the Prince of Darkness will be on that bus?" Sergeant Blake asked as he walked through the bus terminal with Lieutenant Rivera. Blake had the looks. His blond hair and blue eyes got looks from the women.

"Nah, I think we're going to have to run him down," the, older, graying Rivera answered. He popped a Tums, chewed it as he walked. He remembered what the Chief said when asked why he’d been saddled with the the rookie Web: “Web’s sharp; earned his stripes six months ago, already gained minor fame for some shrewd busts. Problem is, he’s still wet behind the ears; he’s going to step on himself if we aren’t careful. I figure hitching him to a crusty old warhorse like you ought to fix that.”

Four murders in the city and the victims blood drained in each case was bad enough but then there was the formal, printed invitation with the black edges that requested one Sergeant William Edward Blake to a meeting for a consult. It was signed Dracula, Prince of Transylvania and Lord of the Undead.

Unless that detail of "Loves Travel Stop" is important, you don't need it because bus ternimals are ugly places in the mind's eye.

Anonymous said...

Yikes, ouch! WTF??? Get me the encyclopedia!

The proliferation of proper nouns and acronyms was your first clue to the nature of these paragraphs: infodump.

I care not what the proper name of the Arizona state law enforcement agency is and would not read on if a novel started out instructing me in obscure geography and lingo like this.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

In that case, cut to the chase even more quickly. Start when he gets off the bus, guns blazing and tentacles whipping madly.

Was it Neil Gaiman who said begin as close to the end as possible? Somebody said it, anyway.

Dave Fragments said...

Not Gaiman but Kurt Vonnegut said "start as close to the end as possible."

vkw said...

It's an Infodump that is not necessary.

I don't think Blake would be asking, "Do really think he'll be on the bus?" at the bus station. That's what he asked forty minutes ago when Rivera asked, "Let's go to the bus station. the 3:11 from Yuma should be arriving there within the hour."

"Do your really think Count Dracula will be arriving on a bus?"

"Sure, how else is he going to get to Phoenix from Yuma? Take a plane? Nah, he'll be on the bus - it's faster and you don't need an ID to get a ticket."

"Are you sure? Why today?"

"'Cause it's his daughter's turning day. You'll see, he'll be there."

Now at the bus station, Blake's going to say, "I don't think he's going to show. He can turn into a bat and fly here if he wants. Sun's out anyway, maybe tonight but not on the 3:11."


150 said...

Oh, a short story? Then I care EVEN LESS about the circumstances of these men's partnership. Why not start when the two discover whether or not "he" is actually on the bus?

Anonymous said...

Authorial homework spills over into the narrative. Very good that you know all this. Using background info in a subtle way is a skill to aspire to.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

That's right. One of Vonnegut's Rules For Writers. Another one:

Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.

I vote for advancing the action, and let that reveal the character.

none said...

I think that tv has to bear some of the blame. Quite often you see characters asking questions as they get out of a car, and you think, why didn't they ask that while they were in the car? It's for the viewer's benefit, of course, and you're not supposed to ask that question. Just be a good viewer and watch the show.

But ouch. Ouch ouch ouch. Cut to the chase.

Anonymous said...

Too much tell. I can't swallow a Sgt asking the question he comes out with in the first line of dialogue. On average it takes 6 years to make Sgt in the US. Raised eyebrows can be saved for divorce or cancer announcements.

The careful balancing of details bog down and clog the opening. For example, popping a Tums is okay. No need to tell us he's chewing it as he walks. All bus terminals sprawl, I don't need the name of it.Bus terminal is enough.

Try a hard re-write chopping every possible detail. Open with action.

Try starting further in as suggested.

PLaF said...

that ending is perfect. You're the master of education and entertainment.

Backstory is important for YOU so that you understand your characters and the world you have created for them. However, it brings your story to a screeching halt and takes up valuable words in a short story.
This reads like a first draft and you're still trying to establish the characters. Boil it down and give us the bare essentials.
They're cops and they're looking for the bad guy, that's good enough for a start.
Now show me why I should stick around and read the rest of the story.