Monday, August 20, 2012

New Beginning 965

The boy

He lives in the house... the abandoned one on the corner with the chain link fence you have to climb in high healed shoes to get over.

The boy didn’t wear high healed shoes so he just stood and looked at the house.

The man was in there, the one from his dream.

In the dream he had gone inside the house. As he entered he first noticed the smell. It was a dank musty smell of earth and rot. As his eyes adjusted to the dark he could see the room was filthy and small. The floor was made of dirt and littered with papers from fast food joints and such. There was a scratchy sound. He turned his head in the direction of the noise. There was an old man asleep in the corner of the room. His breath was coming out and going in ragged breaths. Like the sound of paper being uncrumpled then crumpled again. When the boy looked at him he whispered one word. Flame. Then the boy woke up.

Now he was just wasting time. Looking at the house. He had never actually seen the man, only in the dream. Still he knew the man was inside. He curled his finger around a link in the fence. He thought about the dream. Flame.

The old man

The man was old. He had stopped counting years long ago. In his mind he could see the boy in front of the house. His face spread sideways into an unkind grin. This was good he thought. Walking through the boys mind had been worth the trouble. Now he just needed to plant the flame, fix it somewhere inside the boy then wait.

The shoe mender

It had been a difficult task, leather that crumbled like paper that had been crumpled and uncrumpled a thousand times, but he had healed the shoes of what ailed them, oiled them as best he could, and now they were high, just as the boy had asked. The boy who wanted his high shoes healed to climb a wirelink fence, of all things. But the shoe healer asked no questions of those who had the price.

The fireman

It's a mystery, mate. Seems like the lad's shoes got too close to a naked flame. Went up like a greasy rag. No idea who the other two were. Wrong place, wrong time, I reckon.

The editor

Open another bottle, Mrs V. It's going to be a long night.

Opening: Karen.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

The Girl

She was the one who wore high-heeled shoes. She wondered how the boy knew that she’d climbed over that chain-link fence years before in those high-heeled shoes, but no matter.

The house was in flames. She knew this was just a dream, but she also knew it would happen soon in real life. She’d been monitoring the old man’s thoughts from afar as he wandered through the boy’s mind. The only question was, would she be able to make it from Toronto to Phoenix before the conflagration? And did she have enough frequent-flyer miles to upgrade into business class?


And fix that chain link fence. The boy couldn’t climb it. The boy didn’t have high healed shoes.

Stupid boy. How hard was it, getting high healed shoes? Go see the Shoe Doctor. All day long the Shoe Doctor heals shoes.


Evil Editor said...

Assuming the fence is so tall the boy can't stand on a chair or a step stool to get over it, and he has no access to a ladder, I still don't see how the heels of his shoes matter. The toes need to be narrow enough to fit into the holes between the links. The heels can be high or low.

"coming out and going in ragged breaths" should be "coming and going in ragged breaths" or "coming out and going in in ragged breaths."

By now you've noted the correct spelling of "heel."

"Walking through the boy's mind" needs that apostrophe.

When you open the section "The boy" and then say he lives in the house, the reader assumes you mean the boy lives in the house, not the old man, who hasn't been mentioned yet.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Ah, Karen, you see why we don't let spellcheck be our copy editor...

This takes me back to when I was 12, and the stacked, worn-out paperbacks in the English 7 classroom. Sounder had a protag called The Boy (IIRC only the dog had a name). Steinbeck had this voice. Hemingway may've had this voice too, but I flunked Hemingway.

The question is, do you want this voice?

If so, carry on. If not, do some cutting. Eg:

The room smelled of earth and rot, and the dirt floor was littered with papers from fast food joints. There was an old man asleep in the corner, his breath coming and going in ragged [some other word besides breaths again]. In his sleep, he whispered one word. "Flame." Then the boy woke up.

(When you have two characters of the same sex, you have to keep sticking quasi-identifiers next to your pronouns, as I did there with "in his sleep". Though it's still problematic as both characters are asleep and I'm not quite sure who whispered "flame.")

Basically, go on a cut-fest. And consider giving your characters names. Everything's been done before, and it's easier on the reader when the characters have names.

Dave Fragments said...

I think you need to smooth it all out. Like, for instance:

"He lives in the house... the abandoned one on the corner with the chain link fence you have to climb..."

could be:

"He lives in the abandoned house on the corner. The one with the chain link fence you have to climb to enter..."

OR this:

"The man was old. He had stopped counting years long ago."

could be:

"The man stopped counting birthdays years ago. He felt ageless, ancient."

Or this:

"As he entered he first noticed the smell. It was a dank musty smell of earth and rot."

could be:

"As he entered, he smelled a dank musty smell of earth and rot."

Anonymous said...

No doubt the funniest thing I'll read all day.

JRMosher said...

Beware of over-using this structure. The structure when a word from sentence A is expanded upon in sentence B. It can get monotonous. Monotonous to the point where the reader stops reading.

I don't have a problem with calling characters "the boy" or "the man"; in fact, one of my works-in-progress has a character called simply "the kid." But it isn't easy to pull off. You end up needing something distinctive about the character to take the place of a name, to fix the character in the reader's mind. Or if you're doing it deliberately to make the character generic, someone who fades into the background, I wouldn't suggest doing it with more than one character in a story. Just my opinion, though. For what it's worth, the further I get into my WIP, the better I get to know this character I called "the kid", the more I'm thinking of using his name in the rewrite.

My only other comment would be that the shoe thing has to go. The boy is staring at the house, not climbing the fence. I would buy that this is because he's still gripped by the fear of his dream, or held back by the creepiness of the house he's considering going into, or even that he's scared of getting caught somewhere he isn't supposed to be. I don't buy that he is thinking he can't climb a fence without a sweet pair of stillettos.

In fact, having been a boy myself once, I'd expect him to scoff at the very idea of someone trying to climb a fence in such "girly" shoes. (No offense to the high-heel wearers out there who no doubt can climb fences as well as anyone; just saying this is what I'd expect to find in the head of a boy based on what was in my own, way back when.)

Anonymous said...

I think your go-to shoe for climbing a chain-link fence is the old-fashioned kind of sneaker, canvas with a rubber toe. This is true whether you're The Boy or The Girl.

PLaF said...

That ending

Made me laugh until I cried.

Author, I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish with the section headings – a writing technique to differentiate between points-of-view?

The lack of dialogue is bothersome. Instead of any action, we get a lot of telling, and it’s a bit forced.

“He turned his head I the direction of the noise.” This sentence demonstrates what I mean by “forced.” It’s like I’m reading about puppets instead of characters.

Anonymous said...

Boy standing.
A dream.
Old man

Too static for me. I'm not going to care about a dream out of this kid with the first 'graph.

If you start here:

Walking through the boys mind had been worth the trouble. Now he just needed to plant the flame, fix it in the boy then wait. (Yeah I changed it touch.)

I would be more inclined to carry on if that was the first line.

Good luck
Wilkins MacQueen